Garden Tablet : Manifestations of Earthly Handiwork
HistoryScene SelectionFeaturesArchivesContactHome

The Fish Project: a neighborhood connection
By Jeannine Patané • 23 May 2012

     My friends Michael & Manuel recently had their house featured on a home improvement show, but as most of these in-a-day transformations happen, the production team schedules more than they can do and the homeowner is left with unfinished work. The viewing audience isn’t aware of the leftover to-do list, because the show is about what was done. The right camera angle shot, good editing and a bit of smoke & mirrors make the dramatic change.
     After the production team packed up their trailers and the dust settled, it looked just like a movie set. Only the front and partial sides of the house were transformed. I stepped in to finish the work. Holes in the stucco were patched, old ledger boards were removed in the back and the house and stair painting was finished. I also finished the construction of the pergola.
     Michael and Manuel had some of their own additional projects, like chopping off the tops of their French Gothic fencing. They took on the task while I painted the house. Later, when I walked past the fence, the tops still lay on the ground.
     “Look, fish,” I naturally thought. Amusingly, I picked a few up and took the pieces over to the next-door neighbors.
     Michael and Manuel live next to the family that I build a playhouse for in 2007. Next to the monkey bars were two sheets of plywood that helped tie the lower structure together. It was supposed to be a place for a mural, which never happened, so the wood was still bare. I pitched the fish project to the kids, and the parents wanted more. They wanted a whole school of fish.
     We agreed that we wouldn’t spend a dime on supplies. Everything had to come from what already existed in the garage and house, and everyone contributed to decorating the fish. Once the project was complete, we revealed to Michael and Manuel how scrap pieces of their house contributed to transforming the neighboring family’s home.

fish project
The playhouse fish project. Bigger fish were painted onto the plywood as part of the mural.

french gothic cuttings
French Gothic fish at the base of the fence.

mounted fish
A dowel found in the garage was cut in different sizes to mount the fish off the plywood, and help give the appearance of varying distances.


For more on the playhouse, see:

A Bridge, A Troll and Fairy Sawdust: California Playhouse
[Photo Essay]

Garden Tablet : Manifestations of Earthly Handiwork