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Planning and Building the Gazebo, by Sherpa

May 6th, 2010

Sometime in early July 2007, I received a request from my friend Little Sun, asking if it would be possible for me to make her a Gazebo.  My reply was: “That should be possible, but what is a Gazebo?”  She replied, “A garden house or a teahouse, but in an English way.”  I thought, that should be possible and as I had a month off work, the project came at just the right time.  So I decided to create an outline and get started!

I first planned to give the Gazebo six corners, but then thought an octagonal shape would be more beautiful.  Getting the supplies to build the Gazebo was no problem as a shop selling miniature aircrafts had just opened in our hometown and it sells all kinds of wooden strips.  So, on to the store to get some wood.

I first started on the floor and thought it might be nice to make it in the shape of an octagon, rather than having all the boards lined up next to each other.  I got the green light from Sun and started creating a mould so that the eight segments would be the same.

The Gazebo Floor

This was our first time building to scale and we didn’t have all the proportions in our head.  The segments had a length of 9.5 cm, which would have given the final gazebo a diameter of 19 cm.  The more we worked on it, the more we found that it would be a very small gazebo.  In 1:1 scale, it would be 228 cm diameter, which isn’t a lot!  Just enough for a chair and a table, and that’s it.  At this stage we thought maybe we should change the plan a bit!

We also have our Camel walking about the house, who likes to be involved in our fun.  He always has a lot to say about our projects, but on this occasion he also gave us a brilliant idea, if we doubled the length of the segments, the diameter would become 465 cm in 1:1 scale, and that would be reasonable.  Unfortunately, we do not have a garden with room for a gazebo like that ourselves, but that doesn’t stop us dreaming!  So, we went back to the store to get more wood.

The Extended Gazebo Floor

Camel, 'helping'

It was then time for our holiday and my plane was waiting.  Had the time gone quicker than we expected, or had it been a lot more work than we’d envisioned?  On itself, the floor consisted of 224 pieces of wood, and getting it all right simply took a lot of time.

Well, we went on holiday and hoped that it would be easier to finish the Gazebo when we got home!  At Schiphol Airport they served coffee with beautiful wooden stirrers and I wondered if we could use them in our Gazebo project.  I then had a fantastic idea!  I could use them for the trellis on the roof.  I just needed to get some more.  I had one and with the next cup of coffee, I got another!  But I would have to drink a lot of coffee to get the number of stirrers we needed.

I went to the USA for my holiday, where I did volunteer work at a festival in the desert.  The festival lasted for 14 days, and yes, they had the same coffee stirrers.  On my last day, I went to ask if I could have some and it wasn’t a problem.  Hurray – I go home with my bags full of coffee stirrers and many new ideas for the Gazebo.

Back home we pick up the project where we left it.  Camel has his own ideas and doesn’t always keep his mouth shut, so every now and then we have to shut him up with a cloth pin!

Camel - silenced!

The Floor of the Gazebo complete

The next job was the roof, which I was really excited about.  I did not have any drawings or descriptions and had to do everything by looking and experimenting.  I left school before they could teach me mathematics, so I wasn’t able to calculate everything very well!

We worked with separate parts that would later be connected and we made the frames and beams out of balsa wood.  We soon found that the floor was a lot easier to make – that was flat.  The roof was not only a triangle, but also stood upwards a bit.  We made a mould of cardboard and hoped for the best! Camel provided the necessary help, holding the glue, or testing the roof by using it as a lazy lounge chair.


Camel lounging on the roof

Whilst waiting for the glue to dry I worked with the coffee stirs.  With some glue, headpins and soft board, the trellises start to grow.  420 coffee stirs were needed, so we were busy for quite a while.  We glued them on, 8 pieces at a time on the soft board covered in baking paper, to avoid the glue sticking to anything else.

Trellis for the sides of the Gazebo

While the glue on the trellises was drying, we returned to the roof.  That was if we could keep it out of Camel’s paws.  We tried to imagine the height between the roof levels and wondered what to make between the medium and smallest roof – we thought slats would be nice.  The trellises were planned between the biggest and medium level of the roof.

It started to get more difficult than we expected because the whole thing was getting pretty big and was not that easy to handle.  Fortunately, the Tacky Glue dries rapidly.  It was a lot of work, but the roof was just as we imaged it and finally it was ready for the roof shingles.  We’ve talked a lot about these tiles and Sun finally decides she wants the shingles, as seen in a kindergarten in Leiden, and they could be made in scale out of wooden tongue depressors.

We had no idea how many we would need, but we started by ordering 5 boxes as we needed to make a 1,000 shingles.

Well, it turned out that we needed 995 shingles for the roof.  We had to sand every single one to make sure that they lay flat over each other.  It took a lot more work, but it shows.  The more we looked at it, the more we thought the roof started looking like a pineapple.

Tiling the Roof - Camel 'helps' again

A real accomplishment!

The trellises were finally finished and ready for the roof.  Camel and his fiancée MissMouse, (who normally lives in Groningen but her home, Villa Kattenhart, had been sold, so she was staying at our place) loved to test every part of the new Gazebo and kept a close eye on everything that was happening.  They also provided us with necessary and (especially) unnecessary comments!

Time flew by and the Dolls’ House Fair in Arnhem was coming up, which suited me very well as we did not have all the necessary materials at home to complete the Gazebo – it was also a good opportunity to search for new ideas.  We planned a little fence around 7 of the 8 sides but we had no wood for it.  The shop, Houthoekje, provided us with railings and the large poles we needed to keep the roof up.  At the fair in Bocholt we also found the little posts for the fence.

We also wanted to get some lacy consoles in the upper corners and ordered some which were made by Veronica, of the shop De Maneschijn.  The consoles were the only parts of the whole project that were glued when we bought them, but we still had to alter them a lot to make them the way we wanted.

Tassels - the wooden equivilent of stone corbels

Later on we made a plastic cube to cover the entire project and keep the dust out.  And then it was time for Christmas!  According to my counting, there was 1983 pieces of wood in the project at this point.

The Complete Gazebo, Prior to Decoration

Looking back on the construction, I think we did very well.  It was our first project and though we still had a lot to learn, we gave it our best and it sure has become a beautiful Gazebo.

Next time: Decorating our Gazebo!

Brightest blessings, Little Sun and Sherpa.


One Comment to “Planning and Building the Gazebo, by Sherpa”

  1. What an absolutely fabulous gazebo!

    You are extremely talented, and I would love to have afternoon tea in it. Sun is very lucky indeed.

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