what's the secret handshake that gets me access to the interesting/unusual materials that designers and contractors can get ahold of?
i'm talking about things like double-walled stainless steel tubing. pvc "boards" that you can use outside in wet conditions. a specialty tree that i've started seeing around town, parkinsonia 'desert museum'
. sheets of perforated corrugated steel for a fence we're building. cobblestones for the driveway. strips of "cor-ten" steel to edge our garden beds. and so on.
these are all materials that i've seen around town here in austin, but usually in commercial applications. unfortunately, it's hard to walk up to the girl behind the counter at crate & barrel and ask her where her contractor got the limestone for the building facade. :) and the materials are not at home depot or lowe's -- which may, at best, carry less specialized (and less interesting) versions. if i'm lucky, i can find something that might be what i need, online (hard to tell from a picture), but these places are never local, and shipping would be crazy.
is there simply an inpenetrable barrier between materials suppliers for designers and contractors and those for the general public? i want in, without having to hire an expensive go-between guy. possible?