December 4, 2007

DT Checklist: Stuck On Some Juddy Wall Shelves


So the other kid's crib, which was originally going to be the kid's toddler bed, is inching toward conversion, and you must admit, it is rather Juddish.

Given the crib and the overall minimalist [as in art] vibe, I have Judd on the brain, and the one last piece I have convinced myself we need is a stack of shelves floating on the wall, to hold books and toys.

The obvious solution--install an actual Judd stack sculpture--would destroy my reputation, such as it is, among the art conservation community for abusing a work of art in that way. ["You have to admit, it is rather shelfish."] Also, I think those things are like $7 million now. So that's out.

One possible option would be a series of nice, deep, but light rectangular boxes 30-36" wide, is similar to an unusual stack the Judd Estate sold last year [Should've bought then, when they were only $2.7mm. Damn!].


But I'm thinking of more traditional Judd boxes: thicker, shorter, deeper versions of Ikea's Lack shelves. Like David Netto's CUB Stacker shelf unit, only bigger and more useful. If I were to use Judd boxes, I'd take out the top plexiglass, so that books wouldn't fall off of them when the wind blew.

Any ideas? Because frankly, I'm stumped, and if I don't figure it out soon, we'll end up sticking ye random shelving unit in there. I'd love to just hang stuff rather than build; I've got projects enough to last me until the kids go to college right now.

Are there squared off planter boxes or trays of some kind that I can float on the wall? Do I pull a Netto and build the whole thing on a door painted to match the wall? It'll be in a corner with no traffic, so the "kid brains self on sharp corner" issue worries me less than the "kid pulls self up, over-cantilevered shelf down" jury-rigging issue. Your advice, suggestions, and/or reality check are greatly appreciated.

CUB Stacker, solid white or mixed finish, $315 []

update: Here are some things I've been looking at, actually, after remembering that we bought our changing table at Harbor Freight:

kelmax_shelf.jpg dish_rack.jpg

Cantilevered square tubular aluminum restaurant shelves: Not floating off the wall, admittedly, but still a very clean profile. Weird, I know, but the kid loves the aluminum dunnage racks which she first found at Five Guys hamburgers in DC; it's what they use to store the peanuts. A five-shelf set [4+1] seems like it'd run about $400. Getting it anodized red to match the changing cart? Who knows, another hundred or two?

Then I saw this dish rack, 20-inches square, 5-in. deep, which I could easily drill and bolt to a door or sheet of plywood. It wouldn't hold 900 lbs/shelf like the ones above, but they come in red, cranberry, navy, a whole range of colors, actually. And they're cheap: under $100 for a 5-pack. They remind me of an incredible sculpture by Tony Feher, an 8-ft, red cube made entirely out of Coca-Cola 2-liter crates [with the logos buffed off. He even showed a giant crate wedge at Judd's Chinati Foundation last year. Sweet.] They also remind me of my first job in high school, as a fry cook at Swensen's.


Ooh, then I started looking at milk crates, which are just the tip of the agricultural, grocery, dairy, and food services crating industry iceberg. Rehrig Pacific, who invented the milk crate, also makes bread and confection trays, RPC's [reusable plastic crates], banana crates [!?]... Bolted bottom down to a sheet of plywood, those L19 x H13 rectangular milk crates would get pretty close to the feel of that wood Judd stack. But they're a little short. Those L24 x W20 bread trays would probably need a bracket underneath to support that 20-inch cantilever.


It's been a long day, so I might be wrong, but wasn't it Judd who phoned in the dimensions of some of his earliest pieces to sheet metal fabricators? You could always try that and then attach them to the wall with drywall screws (make sure you place them against studs).

On a related note, have you seen some of the sweet Judd furniture at this site?

[it's part of a story he helped propagate, but it wasn't true. and yes, I have seen and coveted it for quite some time. that daybed is essentially the kid's bed, only with crib mattress-derived proportions. -ed.]

I'm not sure where you live but at Walmart in Canada they have small shelves similar to the ikea ones but much smaller. They come in a box of 3, they're kept with the picture frames and other cube shelves. (I'm sure Walmarts in the states must have the same ones.)

What about galvanized ductwork? You could use duct termini, perhaps.

Or galvanized flowerpots or wastepaper baskets (the rectangular kind, obviously).

Or wire office inbox/outbox things.

Or ammunition boxes. I seem to remember that one could get metal ammo boxes with lids -- that would serve as doors to the shelves, or could be taken off -- at army/navy stores.

Veering away from Judd, you could use those flying V shelves from DWR.

[ammo boxes with Brasco the gun-toting Bear on the side, perhaps... The galvanized stuff is on the list now, though. -ed.]

If galvanized is on the list, you could look at the shelves. Too expensive but kind of fresh.

Maybe it's the daddy in me, but these look like they'd make a great ladder. I'm all over the modern look, but it seems like a sketchy choice with kids in the house.

[which ones? I think it'd be key not to space anything closely enough to be steppable, or to keep it off the floor in the first place. But is any of this any more ladderlike than any other bookcase? -ed.]

Ikea used to have (and may still have, for all I know) floating shelves built in a way that would do the trick:

A steel frame with two tubes extending outward was mounted on the wall (lagged into studs, in your case). The actual shelf just had two holes to accommodate the tubes. Finally a discreet screw was inserted from below to keep the shelf from coming off the frame. It didn't need to be much since the screw wasn't load bearing.

A setup based on this idea would:
1. Be really freakin' strong since the steel frame is doing all the work.
2. Open up your choices for box/shelf materials to almost anything since the steel frame is doing all the work.

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