The last two years of the Leopold Foundation’s Writing Its Next Chapters Together campaign have brought about many structural and functional improvements, of both the Shack and its surrounding environs. We have saved, perhaps most importantly, the aesthetic for last. One of the crown jewels of the Aldo Leopold foundation is getting a polish of sorts. We’re painting the interior of the Shack!
The Shack has aged pretty darn well, but paint was starting to flake off and no one on staff had a solid guess as to when it was last painted. As the EPA will suggest, if you have a building that was painted prior to 1978 get it tested for lead. So, first order of operations was to scrape and test a few flakes of paint. Those results came back with no trace of lead, so the plan going forward was for our staff to complete the bulk of the work.
I have already eluded to the fact that this project has more aesthetic goals behind it. But, I would be remiss to not mention the functional aspects. It is pretty obvious, but the Shack interior is unconditioned air (humidity and temperature fluctuate with outside air). And that air can also be stagnant. That is a recipe for mold and obviously not a goal of ours. Additionally, we battle a little bug called the powderpost beetle at the Shack. Those beetles like wood with a moisture content higher than ten percent. Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it will absorb moisture from the surrounding air. Therein lies a few reasons why functionally it is important to paint. Let the paint seal out moisture and minimize mold.
Any good paint job starts with prep. And all staff got time using both a scraper and a wire brush. The scale of the project isn’t massive. But, it sure did feel nice to have everyone involved with the little building that helped bring about Leopold’s seminal work. As we scraped off the paint, it appears the building has had three previous paintings.
On to the exciting part of the project. Painting! Bud Skupniewitz, consulting professional and long-time friend of the foundation, helped figure out what type of paint to use. With the considerations from above, it was suggested we utilize an exterior latex paint with an emulsifier. Exterior paint for its durability and an emulsifier for a few reasons. One reason was we didn’t want to lose any patina on the interior. The emulsifier does help with “thinning out” the paint but not compromising the adhesion. In-fact the second reason to use emulsifiers is to help mix and stabilize the paint. I have to admit I might not fully understand it all. But you can’t argue with how it looks.
So, while Bud helped us get started I will finish the work. But, before that can happen, I have a few small wood repairs to make. We are working on serving eviction notices to both the Shack mice and the Shack bats. This will be done by tightening up the gaps around the window coverings and a few pieces of the lower trim. Once that is completed, then the painting will be completed. And then our crown jewel will be polished and ready for another fifty years.
We thank all who have helped through your support of this Next Chapters campaign. We are very near to our overall fundraising goal, so maybe your next gift will be the one that gets this essential restoration project across the finish line!
Thank you to the Derse Foundation for their generous support in putting us just $50,000 short of our $750,000 goal.