Sunday, December 6, 2009

Portland Slide

Here are some images of a slide in a park here in Portland. I love this thing. Everything that is wrong is what I love about it. The textures created by the years of use and lousy maintenance make this thing a masterpiece. How many kids have been bonked and bruised? How many dads have had to climb up and rescue their over ambitious kid, stuck at the top? I know at least one and he is me.

Someone poured some green house paint down the slide and the thick worn texture of the frozen stream caught my attention. It reminded me of carved acanthus leaves and whatnot found on 18th Century antiques. Not just the shape but the distress and the patina.

I don't really like the patina on this chair leg, I think it is bunk. Not the greatest example.

This looks nicer to me

So I started looking closely at this slide and was amazed to find such a rich agglomeration of textures and color. The layers of degradation competing with mildly effective coats of paint and moss and dirt and stickers give the structure a life story that I can't help but consider. That could be my problem but this kind of stuff keeps me from ever getting bored.
Scary music by Action Daddy

It is an aesthetic that I love. Back at Carlton House Restoration, we spent hundreds of hours applying hundreds of years of history to furniture pieces that had been "inappropriately" handled. As a matter of fact, in the early 80's there was a movement to make old furniture look as if it had just come out of the shop. So they would dip and strip all the life out of these things to make them look brand new. Then when that craze ended, we would get them and beat them up again to make them look like they were old, again. This costs thousands of dollars to do well. Crazy.

Here is an antique joke that my old boss and good friend Kenny made up and tried to tell a couple of movers as they brought in some important piece of furniture:

"Hey, how do you restore an American antique?"


  1. Hey, I know that slide! My kid has bonked his head on it before, and I found out the hard way it's kind of too small for an adult. It was super scary when he was 2 and kept trying to go on it- no safety features in the 70's when it was built, obviously.
    First time on your site (via DesignSponge). Fun stuff!

  2. I took a few lumps trying to take a video of that green paint as I mashed my way down.
    I am glad you like the blog! I really appreciate it.