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Pope Leighey cypress
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JChoate



Joined: 04 Feb 2016
Posts: 700
Location: Atlanta

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But, nearby stands the windmill, just as gray as he/she can be:

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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When the siding was new -- an undated photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/108649409730642743/

Anybody have the year when this residing was done ? (Really, Pinterest does us no service by encouraging undocumented submissions -- a sorry symptom of this new do-it-yourself culture we're in ?)

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Photo published in 1997:




photo Simon Clay
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1336
Location: Burlington, WA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taliesin 1 was Wright's first "Natural House". From "An Autobiography", he had plenty to say indicative of its importance at the time on many levels, personally and professionally. Sometimes it's fun to just let him riff, as only he could....

"... Taliesin was to be an abstract combination of stone and wood as they naturally met in the aspect of the hills around about.... the plastered surfaces of the light wood-walls, set back beneath broad eaves, were like the stretches of sand in the river below and the same color, for that is where the material that covered them comes from.Finished wood outside was the collor of gray tree trunks in violet light. Shingles of the roof were left to weather silver-gray like the tree branches spreading below them..... inside floors, like outside floors, were stone paved or if not were laid with wide, dark-streaked cypress boards. The plaster in the walls was mixed with raw sienna in the box, went onto the walls natural, drying out tawny gold. Outside, the plaster walls were the same but grayer with cement. But in the constitution of the whole, in the way the walls rose from the plan and spaces were roofed over, was the chief interest of the whole house. The whole was supremely natural. The rooms went up into the roof, tent-like and were ribanded overhead with marking-strips of waxed, soft wood. The house was set so sun came through the openings into every room sometime during the day. Walls opened everywhere to views as the windows swung out above the tree-tops, the tops of red, white, and black oaks and wild cheery trees festooned with wild grape vines. In spring, the perfume of the blossoms came full through the windows, the birds singing there the while, from sunrise to sunset-all but the several white months of winter.

I wanted a home where icicles by invitation might beautify the eaves. So there were no gutters. And when snow piled deep in the courts, icicles came to hang staccato from the eaves. Prismatic crystal pendants sometimes six feet long, glittered between the landscape and the eyes inside. Taliesin in winter was a frosted palace roofed and walled with snow, hung with iridescent fringes, the plate-glass of the windows shone bright and warm through it all as the light of the huge fireplaces lit them from the firesides within, and streams of wood smoke from a dozen such places went straight up toward the stars."

A little later he says it more succinctly....."It was intensely human, I believe."

The yellower gold and red trim came much later in the evolution. The original color scheme would make for a completely different experience from what is now there. The essence of the original Taliesin went by the wayside as did the exterior grayer cement tone, unlike its lifelong hold on him. Obviously, I had a few spare, if rare, moments available tonight.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5582
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Jim! Such a beautiful, poetic description of Taliesin.

So Wright first pictured the wood weathering to a silvery color. After initially darkening, when exposed to sun and rain, that happens very quickly, within five years without stain, even with a few coats of oil. The choice then becomes whether to add more oil, or take the wood back to its pinkish tone by cleaning and sanding again. If more oil is added to protect the wood, the tone will darken.

Is there any way to preserve the silvery tone while thoroughly protecting the wood from harmful uv and water penetration? I haven't heard of one...

I think cypress behaves similarly to redwood:

"As redwood weathers, several natural color changes take place. These changes may occur over a period of years and will vary from one climate to another. In a damp or humid climate, redwood lumber used outdoors will go through two stages, the first being a darkening of the wood. As time goes on, this darkening may be rinsed away by rain and the redwood will weather-bleach to a soft driftwood gray. A redwood structure sheltered from rinsing rains may remain dark throughout its lifetime. Therefore, the site of the structure plays an important part in the decision to leave the redwood unfinished. In drier climates, unfinished redwood may not darken. Instead, the wood will gradually turn a silvery tan, becoming lighter in color as the natural weathering continues."

http://www.getredwood.com/redwood-maintenance/natural-weathering/
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7483

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As so often happens, Mr. Choate has said it all, leaving little for me to add. But one detail I find endearing is the use of "primitive" elements, like the prosaic porcelain light fixtures with bare, incandescent bulbs and pull chains, and the hooks to hold the windows open dangling from the sill when not in use. So many of these things have been gussied up and hidden unnecessarily.

When researching the living room furniture for Hollyhock, I noticed, in a murky B&W period photo, a lump on the side of the lamp atop the torchiers. Turned out to be a toggle switch. Of course, it wasn't factored into the reproduction, since they no longer pass code, but I campaigned to have them included even if not connected, just to be true to the nature of the originals. Other lights, not included in the fabrication, also had dangling chains, which I'm sure would not have been included.
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JChoate



Joined: 04 Feb 2016
Posts: 700
Location: Atlanta

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To think that a commonplace toggle switch becomes poetic (and it does) is a testament to our frequently & unnecessarily over-complicated modern life. There is poetry in honestly expressed simplicity, both in form and function.

Peter, regarding redwood, several weeks ago on a thread we touched on the real estate photos of a 1961 Robert Green house in Atlanta. Subsequently I went and saw that house and talked to the real estate agent (friends with the non-resident owner who is the child of the original clients). That family continuity kept the house from being altered, except for carpeting over the red concrete floors, and (gulp) someone just made a decision to solid stain the outer fascia board the Taliesin red color. They were partially into that unfortunate task when I visited (see below).
The house I live in was completed in 1960 and I think this other house was the commission that followed it. The components felt the same. My house is redwood inside and out, but a few years before me a previous owner stained the outside red (same color as TWest), citing maintenance fatigue.

Seeing this other house, I have a clue as to the exterior weathering of redwood in our region over 55 years. As you suggest, the redwood makes its way towards black, losing its redness. Interestingly, from the interior there is visual continuity from the interior redwood's brown color because the underside of the roof overhang is spared exposure to UV and direct moisture. But, the exterior material in the elements vectors towards charcoal gray.









Last edited by JChoate on Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:52 am; edited 2 times in total
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5582
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if oiled cypress would also turn that dark in Georgia? Here is an image I was able to find, but it's not clear whether it had been treated nor how long it had been exposed to the elements:
http://inspectapedia.com/exterior/Cypress_Siding_Stains_NW_300_RHs.jpg
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Finished wood outside was the color of gray tree trunks in violet light." That is Wright's description of the original Taliesin, according to Jim's quoted passage above. And, "Shingles of the roof were left to weather silver-gray . . ."

Mr Wright does not mention the specie of either material whose visual appearance he describes. Nor does he say anything about oil or other finish. So, I think it's premature to assume that he always oiled exterior wood, in a house under his own control.

Red cedar shingles turn brown -- these are the ones commonly used in New England for siding, I believe -- while white cedar ones turn silver-gray. So these are presumably the ones Wright intended for Taliesin's roofs, it is probably safe to say. But what wood is used for exterior trim, there ?

Based on current discussion, it seems that oiled wood cannot be expected to remain "the color of gray tree trunks in violet light." Redwood was said by some to be a fall-back choice for Usonians when cypress was not available. I'm not aware of houses of the pre-Usonian periods to be made of redwood. Is that correct ?

I very much doubt that the wood, of whatever specie, in the photo linked just above by Peter, has been oiled, any time recently if ever. Oil immediately darkens wood and enhances its color -- at least temporarily. Once soaked into the material, it would take a while to dry out. It would be interested to perform tests to determine whether even one application of oil would permanently alter the appearance of wood siding and trim . . .

The downside of pigmented stain is apparent in James's first photo, above; a crack in the fascia at left is turned from a minor appearance defect into major visual distraction, indeed the only remaining feature of that piece of wood. It certainly makes clear that the board should be replaced -- perhaps a useful side-effect of the application ?

SDR
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5582
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Transparent stain (with the exception of today's water based varieties) is mostly oil, typically linseed, plus some pigment. If applied regularly, the long term color of the wood is affected by both the pigment and the oil. I experienced this firsthand with a previous house in California.

The mention of the use of oil on wood that I referred to by Wright is in one of his later books (the Natural House, I think..)

Our 1950s era redwood barn/shed turned poolhouse in Altadena was clear heart redwood, the same color as the exterior Spring Green and Taliesin West wood, and had never been stained. The original owner told us that he had only applied linseed oil every few years.


Last edited by peterm on Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose there are various percentages of solids, in different brands or types of pigmented stains. Is the Sikkens product a pigmented stain ?

Robert Green really got it, didn't he. That lapped-board ceiling is wonderful as it traverses the glass line . . .

SDR
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5582
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sikkens makes clear and pigmented, as I recall.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. So, which variety have we spoken of most recently, at Wright Chat ? And who here has used it ? It's important to distinguish between pigment and "clear," I think -- in the Usonian period, anyway ? Wasn't his "new work" supposed to
eliminate the inessential -- a Wrightian version of "less is more" ?


Prairie-period houses certainly had stained exterior woodwork, in many cases; were any painted ? Here's a rare image, found in Manson on the same page as a larger image of the house: the Willits "Gardener's Cottage with Stables." Storrer
shows a different exterior view and mentions subsequent modification.



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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14291
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also visible in this rendered view:




2009 by TASCHEN GmbH and by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
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JChoate



Joined: 04 Feb 2016
Posts: 700
Location: Atlanta

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A recent drive-by photo, for color comparison purposes:



...and, regarding the Willits gardeners cottage, here's a drive-by shot of the side of the cottage (perpendicular to your historic image). Note the Gilmore House-like prow:
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