The archivists requested a donkey, but what they got from the mayor’s office were four wary black sheep, which, as of Wednesday morning, were chewing away at a lumpy field of grass beside the municipal archives building as the City of Paris’s newest, shaggiest lawn mowers.
Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has made the environment a priority since his election in 2001, with popular bike- and car-sharing programs, an expanded network of designated lanes for bicycles and buses, and an enormous project to pedestrianize the banks along much of the Seine.
The sheep, which are to mow (and, not inconsequentially, fertilize) an airy half-acre patch in the 19th Arrondissement are intended in the same spirit. City Hall refers to the project as “eco-grazing,” and it notes that the four ewes will prevent the use of noisy, gas-guzzling mowers and cut down on the use of herbicides.
Well, I managed to move from inspiration to implementation in what was almost certainly a new personal record for any endeavor other than blogging. In just five days, I took this idea, ran with it, scavenged a pallet, removed the bottom boards, cleaned it, primed it, painted it with dregs of varying age from our embarrassingly large store of paints from projects past, mounted the hooks (from Ikea, the only non-recycled items in the project), and, finally, mounted my new coat rack in the mudroom. (It should be noted that I was generously assisted in the painting and mounting phases by my wife, who was probably wondering what had gotten into me, but who also knew that she shouldn’t question the newfound productivity, else it might disappear as quickly as it arrived.)
Since I know you’re dying to see my finished product, here are two photos, and then I’ll finish up with some notes on the project that I think could be helpful to anyone else who might give the idea a try:
As promised, if you choose to attempt this at home…
Before you go pallet hunting, have an idea of what you want your pallet to look like and how big the space you plan to put it in is, since pallets come in many shapes and sizes, with the configuration of the boards varying greatly. Some have wider slats than others, some have beefier bottom boards, some have slats close together without any gap, others are wider apart, like the one I used.
Be prepared for the fact that the hardest part, by far, is the removal of boards from the bottom. Nails can be many in number and in varying stages of rusting away. Also, for me it proved utterly impossible to not split and break the boards as they came off.
Apropos the first bullet, because of the variations in pallet construction, be warned that the method of mounting can be tricky depending on the type of pallet. In the project I tried to copy, the construction of the pallet makes it easy. The horizontal boards look to be 1″ x 3″, with the 3″ side flush to the wall, and so screwing them into studs was probably easy. In my project however, those boards are 2″ x 4″, with the 2″ side flush to the wall. So, since I didn’t want to have to countersink screws deep into the 2×4 and then into the studs, as you can see in the photos, my wife painted a spare 2×4 that we had, we mounted it flush to the wall, hung the pallet on it, and then I drove some screws down through the 2×4 of the pallet into the 2×4 on the wall.
Finally, unless you have a powerful belt sander and a good supply of sandpaper, don’t bother with sanding, as the instructions at Shelterness suggest. You will never get a fully clean, smooth, like-new surface, the paint hides a LOT, and the ragged edges here and there just add to the shabby chic charm of the piece.