"Bow-Wow Haus" won the naming contest for our doghouse entry into the Yew Dell Gardens Barkitechture exhibit by garnering a staggering 4 votes. That number also represents the sum total of all the votes we received so it was a fairly decisive victory, but it left us with a significant dilemma. The design we had already completed looked nothing like something that would have come from the Bauhaus School of design so the contest winning title just didn't fit. We had to start over.
The new design that we settled on was both a better doghouse from a dog's point of view and also an exciting excuse for us to try something new. It is a simple, elemental structure made up of slabs at various angles to one another so we decided that we would concentrate on texture, color, and proportion to make up for a lack of fine detail. So, naturally, we chose to light it on fire! Actually we only torched the roof, but the resulting finish and texture has us completely sold on the technique. It is actually the same process that the inside of bourbon barrels receive, but applied with more precision. The Japanese also use this technique for architectural applications like cypress siding because by burning the surface of the wood it is made more resistant to weather, insects, fire ironically, and fungus. They call it Shou-Sugi-Ban or Burnt-Cypress-Boards. In our case its Shou-Oaki-Ban because we don't know the Japanese word for Oak. White oak is the same wood used around the world to age wine, and bourbon among other things, and it also happens to last a very long time outside.
We used a giant blow torch to apply enough heat to the roof slabs to utterly singe them, but not so much that they began to crack and form the lizard skin texture associated with a more thorough scorching. We'll try that next time. What we were left with was a gorgeous silvery black finish, that changes to gun-metal blue at certain angles. The grain takes on an embossed texture not unlike that of old barn beams, but without the splinters. Touching it will leave you with charcoal black fingers, but it's worth it. We applied a healthy coat of tung oil and proclaimed the finish finished. The remainder of the doghouse was left with no finish at all. Instead we sanded and polished it until it had a mirror like burnish which should last all of five minutes outside, but looked great in the studio. We will post a video showing some of the construction process for this piece soon. In the meantime here is a teaser photo to coax you out to Yew Dell Gardens starting this Sunday the 11th. The exhibit will be through the end of October and you can visit during regular Yew Dell hours. If you decide to go out any Sunday until then, you can bring your doggie with you (on leash of course). There are other examples of doghouse excess on display as well so get out to Yew Dell this Autumn.