August 6, 2011

A girl of wood and tools

There's many times in my life when I've taken a lot of crap from a lot of people because they simply can't understand that I build stuff. Yeah, I use a table saw and a nail gun. Yes, I really do. Yes, I actually built that. No, I did not have someone else build that for me. I did it myself!

It seems that it's a bit of a tricky concept for many, so I feel I've been burdened with my fair share of sexism. For example, every time I go to Home Depot and a guy feels the need to comment are you making a playhouse? Or Hey, got a little project this weekend? --- as I nearly ram my cart into him filled with forty two-by-fours, two rolls of insulation, and three planks of two-by-eight pressure treated. Really? I'm buying all this and all he's buying is a roll of tape and he still feels the need to say that. Interesting.

The only thing I've found that helps is if a wear my tape measure on my belt a pencil behind my ear -- my respect level increases about two percent. But then I get comments from teenage girls who think my tape measure is a fashion statement. Either way, it's a bit of a mess.

But the good times out weigh the bad, by far. Being a girl in construction is awesome. I'm surrounded my men all the time, and wonderful men at that. 

Yesterday, the electrician gave me this:

It's old, it's oak, it's hand carved. I'm going to put a chalk board in it. I was speechless.

A few days ago, the plumber gave me this:

It's also old, it's rusty, it's the most amazing horse yolk I've ever seen. I'm totally overjoyed.

Then, the general contractor gave me this:

Yes, it's a tree slab shaped like a heart. It's gorgeous. I'm thinking of making a bench/stool out of it. I adore it, as I adore all three things. Not only because of what they are, but because of how they came to me. Who would expect to take a job building a restaurant and make such dear friends with the most unexpected people? For the first time in the past couple days, I've been feeling a little sad that I will have to leave them all and go back to NY.

I'll have to deal with the emotions of that problem later. For the remaining time I'm here, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy being the girl of the construction site. 


  1. I love that you are so in your element!

  2. men are good.
    i don't always think that or believe it.
    but you can tell your posse they have restored my faith in all of it.
    xxx to you and them.

  3. Anne-MarieAugust 08, 2011

    What wonderful gifts! I am torn because I can't wait until the restaurant opens, but then you will be gone and there will be no more lovely updates. It's been great to be along for the ride!

  4. And you are from New York? I thought you would have figured out snappy rude comments for the Home Depot guys already. Like "I'm a builder," I'm a cabinet maker" "I'm Martha Stewart on wood" or how about, "I've been sent from corporate to see how you treat women - like a secret shopper."
    Your humanity and personality show through your work. I wish I knew how to hammer and cut, even a little bit. Do you give lessons in NYC? I think this restaurant is going to get press around the world. Can't wait to see it finished. Great job! Ann

  5. Well the first few times guys said things like that I was literally shocked into silence, or only able to utter a highly sarcastic "Uuuuuh, Yeeeeah". I'm still surprised by it, and I've never been prepared enough to respond with anything stronger than sarcasm. I'm putting NY-ers to shame with my inability to retort!

  6. Haha! I loved how you articulated your experience at the Home Depot. It's exactly how I feel when I go there right down to the tape measure and pencil! I love, love, love your work and feel as though you are a kindred spirit. Thanks so much for sharing this project with all of us. It is beautiful and you are an inspiration!

  7. It is both fun and frustrating being a woman in construction/restoration arts...I can relate to this so much!

  8. Totally agree with makinggainsborough; love your writing.

  9. I'm a bit late with this, but I can tell you that I'm a male and I've been a carpenter/sculptor/furniture maker for close to 20 years and the Home Depot/Lowes employees still say things like, "Oh looks like you've got a fun project" or "Looks like you've got your work cut out for you." Anyways love the blog!


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