Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Build Me a Record Shelf"

How it went down:
VVer #2 attends a DC record fair.  As she is leaving, she spots a pamphlet on the table near the door.  The lushly photographed tri-fold advertising custom built, wooden record shelves priced upwards of $500.  She snagged the pamphlet and half-way jokingly, sent it to her dad with a note "Build this for me."  Exactly one year later, the dad-built shelf appeared in the House of VV.

Some background:
Dad-VVer loves building things, mainly wooden type things.  A treehouse, benches, aquatic animal carvings, wind art, yard crocodiles, you name it.  Call it a full-time hobby.  Therefore, it was not an unusual request to send a random project his way.  In fact, over the years, the House of VV has quickly turned into a Dad-VVer furniture showroom; the refurbished Singer sewing table, refinished spiral-legged table with the swing-out sides, wine bottle plant potters, and the newest edition, a bench made from the recycled wood of a baby crib.  Building a shelving unit based solely on a picture would be a very do-able challenge for Dad-VVer to take on.  And he did.  After volunteering at an estate sale, he got first dibs on several old doors and a pine ladder, the perfect wood to be up-cycled into the shelf.  According to Dad-VVer, the major difficulty in putting the project together was in the early stages.  He had to figure out how to assemble the flat door pieces and the ladder parts as simply as possible so as not to alter the look of the original parts.  After testing the design with a handful of his own records, a deep stain coat went on, and it was finished.  Total cost: under $40 minus design and man-hours, of course.

On design:
Apart from the increased capacity and sharp looks, the new shelf has a few quirks.  For one, the VVers are still trying to sort out whether or not the design has a flaw.  When fully loaded, the combined LPs put considerable weight against the back ladder spoke, but more importantly, the record at the back of the row.  Will this back-of-the-stack record warp over time?  The solution at this point has been to use some stray flat wood, hidden inside some funny records sleeves (old Bangles records?) to more evenly distribute the weight and protect that back LP.  Another thing the VVers noticed when determining where to put the shelf is that it cannot be wedged in the corner because it would be virtually impossible to access records in the bottom shelf.  For this design, side-access is crucial.  Also, as an object, it just looks more interesting when you can see the entire thing.  Which led the VVers to ask "Now where do we put this thing?!"  Even Dad-VVer has said if were he to do it again, he would probably make it smaller.  After some major rearranging, the ladder-shelf found a good home in a central spot for quality access and ogling.

More records:
Now that there is more storage space, records can start accumulating again!  Wait, maybe not a great idea to rush it.  Besides, the shelf arrived pre-loaded with a handful of cast off records from a family friend's personal collection.  The best of these include a Bob Dylan Greatest Hits, two Ali Akbar Khan recordings, and a Ravi Shankar record.  Interestingly enough, a copy of the Ravi Shankar record was previously in the House of VV but purged because of its inferior pressing.  This version plays much better and the VVers are happy to have it.  One record that didn't fit into the collection: Faster Than the Speed of Night by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler which includes "Total Eclipse of the Heart."  Yeah, that song.  What's important to remember here is that just because you get a new shelf doesn't mean you have to go bonkers filling it.  Time will take care of that.  (It didn't take long!)

Storage matters:
Why spend time on this subject?  Caring for your vinyl is no small task (as opposed to throwing them in a heap next to the record player).  They are delicate and deserve your care.  To get the most out of your investment, you'll want maximum access to your collection, an effective way display these pieces of art (aka album covers), and an unobtrusive way to preserve your records from wear and tear.  As well, spacious shelving leads to better organization, which in turn allows you to quickly locate a record and get that thing spinning!

For the VVers, the new record shelf is one-of-a-kind and made from recycled materials; a nice balance to the typical, but useful, Ikea bookshelf.  Since its inclusion, clutter has gone down and overall organization has improved exponentially.  The real question remains, will there be another shelf and how much will it take to bribe Dad-VVer to make it?

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