Archive for the ‘construction’ Category

The Way

Thursday, November 19th, 2020


Despite our strange and challenging times, I am finding a way to keep doing the work I am called to do. In June, I was contacted by Laura Foley, to create a piece for her home. Laura is a poet who lives with her partner, Clara, in Pomfret, VT. Laura had seen my piece, “Hot and Cold” at Sculpture Fest and was wondering if I would be up for making a similar piece for her home. I agreed and then made a site visit and discussed the size, color and location of the piece. It turned out that they wanted the piece to be 7 feet in diameter. In addition, I learned that Laura and Clara had walked the Camino de Santiago and felt that this significant experience could be linked by color to this commission. I would replicate the yellow and blue of the route markers, they have a facsimile of one of them at their house. After taking pictures of the house and the route marker, I began to prepare this project.


In early July I went up to my friends’ woodlot and cut a bunch of striped (aka “moose”) maple. This tree is considered a weed by most folks as it has no value in terms of lumber or firewood. My friends, Daniel and Creigh, are very happy when I cut these saplings out of their woodlot as I am creating opportunities for other trees to grow. It has been a goal in my art making to find materials that are being cast away or are easily regenerative. I find these saplings beautiful in their slight bending forms.

I selected saplings that are 1-4” in diameter. It’s best to cut these trees from late spring into the summer because sap is flowing through the Cambrian layer of the bark making it easier to peel. I peeled the bark off of these saplings and then let them cure for a couple of months. After this drying period, I cleaned off any branch remnants on my table saw. I then power sanded each sapling. Next I primed and screwed the saplings onto a plywood and 2×4 backing for structural support. Then I set a screw in the center of this assemblage and with a string and sharpie drew a large circle. Using a skill saw, I cut the saplings into the shape of the circle. I then disassembled the structure and labeled each sapling for future assembling. I then started the paint process; over the course of a couple of weeks I applied four coats of paint.


In mid-October I loaded up a COVER truck with staging, tools, paint, and all the pieces of this installation and headed to Pomfret. I set up my staging and found the place on the wall where this piece would reside. I then spent the rest of the day reassembling all the parts and screwing to each other and the wall. Laura and Clara witnessed the transformation of their wall and the only regret was that we did not do a time lapse of the assembling. Laura says “Jay Mead’s piece, entitled The Way, (after the Camino De Santiago), brightens up and energizes our house; its dynamic design and bright yellow and deep blue colors pop out from the grey walls, reminding us every day of beloved Spain, and our amazing 500 mile trek. Our house is no longer generic or banal, but head-turning, unique and exciting, thanks to The Way.”

The Way has a visual vibration to it caused by the repetition and intensity of the yellow 39 saplings set against the grey of the house and the blue of the core square set behind them. The Way continues a simple direction in my work in that it uses an ensemble of multiple pieces to create a unified form.

IMG_9661 IMG_9663

My day job still continues to be with COVER leading crews of volunteers doing essential home repairs and providing safe access to low income homeowners in our area. We have adjusted to Covid protocols and are working hard to restore Hope and Community, these are the main words that describe the mission of COVER.


As a response to these anxious times, I am feeling a need to be grounded and invested in something tangible and real, and so I just upped my garlic planting from 800 to 1200 garlic seeds (cloves). I have been selecting the best seed stock from this variety of garlic for over 15 years. Planting garlic is always an act of hope, gratitude, and faith in the future. May we all find ways to plant seeds of hope.

A New Sauna

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Many of us are confined to our home turf these days.  Though I miss working my regular job at COVER leading crews of volunteers on repair projects, it’s been a great time to focus on home projects. For me, this unexpected extra time has meant that I could finish building the sauna I had started last summer. I had been unfortunately interrupted in October when I had a table saw accident that caused injury to my right hand and put me out of commission for two months. I was glad to get back to work at COVER starting in early January. Then in March the pandemic hit…

So, with social distancing dictating that I stay at home, I turned back to my sauna. I built the sauna with lots of recycled material from the COVER store. The materials came from all over the place. For example, the siding is discarded metal from a roof we redid on a mobile home in Ascutney. While the doors come from the COVER store, I transformed the interior door by sanding and adding discarded knotty cedar to both sides. The door handles are driftwood. The door hinges come from the store as do the two windows, one of which was formerly a skylight. The tile floor and heat shield (cement board) came from the store, as did the clear cedar and discarded redwood. The pan and candelabra on the woodstove came from the store. Those soap stone shards came from the free pile at the store.

The wood stove and stovepipe came from a shed at my mother’s house. The aspen came from a sauna-building friend in Massachusetts who no longer had a need for it. The cedar posts and oak beam were from my home wood stash. The branch hooks come from the woods. The framing, sheathing, insulation, shiplap pine, and roofing were all bought at Fogg’s, our local lumberyard.
Needless to say, this sauna has been a wonderful project to focus on while staying socially distant on account of this COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also a wonderful experience to get steaming hot, and sit out in the cold rain and not even feel it, while the frogs try to sing and spring is in the air.

For the past month I have been back to working full time at COVER, continuing on with repair and construction projects. PPE and social distancing are just part of the job now.

IMG_2773 IMG_2638 IMG_2790 IMG_2795 IMG_2798 IMG_2794IMG_2793 IMG_2781

Paul’s House of Art

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

IMG_1718I thought I would share with you some photos of a job I was on recently for COVER, photos of Paul’s house. Paul is a guy in Hartland (in his 70s-80s?) who has no car and has lived in this trailer his whole life. He walks weekly from his place on the Jenneville road 7 miles to BGs general store for red duct tape and groceries and then 7 miles back. COVER was called in by the Aging in Hartland group to assist in trying to make this place a little warmer. I had to take apart a couple small sections of the collage interior to squeeze in some reflective bubble wrap to protect his water pipes from freezing. Taking apart these sections was like taking a part a beaver dam!  Paul weaves clothing, garbage, newspaper, wire, old calendars, magazine images and of course red duct tape into the walls of his home. This is his art and insulation. Unfortunately when you dig beneath the surface everything is damp from condensation, this seems to be this a ripe environment for mold and mice. While I face lots of sad stories derived from various states of desperate poverty, I do catch moments of wonder and beauty; I’m in awe of people like Paul who survive through so much adversity. It’s also nice to see grass roots organizations like Aging in Hartland and COVER working together to help folks out. And yes,
it’s not everyday I encounter such art projects on COVER jobs.


“Repurposed:” A Show at the AVA Gallery

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018


    The AVA gallery in Lebanon, NH, will be home to some of my work from April 27th through May 30th. An opening reception will be held on April 27th from 5-7 pm. The show will be a continuation of my exploration of art using repurposed materials. As part of my work for COVER, a White River Junction-based nonprofit that helps repair homes of vulnerable residents, I find myself making frequent trips to the dump, to dispose of excess materials. Seeing this as a waste, I have begun setting aside materials that could still have some utility as materials for sculpture and art.


I have been intrigued by these materials, not only because I don’t like watching them go to waste, but also because of the interesting effects that time and the elements have on them. The roofing that I am currently working with, for example, is worn in a way that makes it continually interesting to look at. The galvanized metal develops interesting patterns and marks over years of exposure to the elements, giving it nuance. Each unique piece brings its history with it to the sculpture.

    For the upcoming show, I have been experimenting with large forms, as the show will fill two rooms at the AVA gallery. While these pieces are made from repurposed wood and discarded metal roofing, my primary interest is exploring how these forms can be expressed and how they engage with the spaces they are set in.

Building Hope and Community in the Upper Valley

Saturday, August 20th, 2016


In June, I started working full-time as a Job Crew Leader for a non-profit called COVER. Based in White River Junction, Vermont, COVER specializes in home repair and weatherization for people in need who live in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. COVER relies on the generosity of individuals, foundations, local businesses, and the proceeds from its “ReCOVER Store” to fund home repairs and weatherization. The mission of COVER is best summed up by “providing hope and community” to the people of the Upper Valley.

I have found this work to be highly rewarding in that I have to apply several skill sets: teaching, construction knowledge, leadership, and the ability to hear people’s concerns. In a time when there is so much negative hyperbole directed toward people in poverty and the safety nets of our government are under attack, it feels good to be part of a positive solution. Learn more about COVER.