Dad’s Barometer

Dad’s Barometer

Dad’s barometer from his basement workshop

I don’t know how many barometers my father had, but I know he liked them because three of them came with him to California in 1996, when I moved my parents here for their final years. Of course, living along Lake Erie which is known for its quickly generated summer afternoon storms, may have been the reason he kept an eye on them. And as those things go, his barometers eventually took up residence at my house.

My dad was a “ham”, an amateur radio operator for 65 years. On the wall above his desk in the basement where his rig was set up, on which he talked to other “hams” all over the world, hung a wood plaque with a seven inch round barometer made in England. Below the dial, Dad had pasted a center slice of ham covering the name of some company. My father was always trading electronic equipment and supplies with his buddies, and he acquired this handsome barometer somewhere along the way.

Not surprisingly, I like barometers too, although one hardly needs one in California’s central valley. One of Dad’s bigger barometers decorated my garage next to the side door for about ten years until it became so weathered I couldn’t read the dial anymore.

I wanted to hang up the one with the ham picture in my computer/ shell collection room, but I didn’t want to look at that ham slice everyday. When I removed the ham, the wood underneath it had some painted writing partially scratched off. The only practical solution was to make a collage over the mess.

I could have covered it with flowers, birds, or butterflies, but I really wanted to have something that honored those traits I share with my dad: trading supplies and equipment with my friends, picking up treasure out of other people’s junk, and giving new life to odd, useful things.

Detail of collage on Dad’s barometer

I covered the writing with a grass-cloth wallpaper sample. The two metal stars at the top corners are part of the plaque, and I had to carefully cut the wallpaper to fit around them. The tan mesh in front of the gold foil is a chair caning material I have a roll of. The round grey/white thing in the center is a burned out light bulb socket. Other ephemera include an old buckle on a strap, a cruddy penny, and a wadded up piece of rusty barbed wire.

I used fine copper wire twisted to suspend a Tim Holtz blurb from the barbed wire which reads: “reality is limited, imagination is limitless.”

Detail of the quote
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