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Norman Castle with Underground Springs in San Francisco

Kirsten Dirksen amd Nicolás Boullosa continue their amazing and prodigious coverage of “…simple living, self-sufficiency, small (and tiny) homes, backyard gardens (and livestock), alternative transport, DIY, craftsmanship and philosophies of life.”

I can’t believe how many videos Kirsten has made and photos Nicolás has shot, it seems like they post videos and photos weekly. All stuff I’m interested in.

This one really got me because I’m a native San Franciscan, and never dreamed of a place like this in the city.

Check out

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Tintype Portrait

Photographer Jenny Sampson shot this, along with portraits of other skateboarders last week at the Bolinas skatepark, using an 8″ by 10″ view camera and the tintype process — a 19th century procedure called wet plate collodion (invented in 1851).

I had to hold perfectly still for 20 seconds, during which time the shutter was open for 3-5 seconds. She then developed the plate in a portable darkroom she set up on site.

I’ve always felt that people in those photos from 100 years ago looked piercingly realistic, due to the shutter being open for a relatively long time, and getting more of the essence of its subjects.

More on Jenny and her books and photos (many of skaters) at

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Giant Trolls Built Out of Recycled Wood in Maine

My friends Jonathan and Dobree Greene sent me photos of these magnificent art works:

“BOOTHBAY, Maine — Something wicked has taken over the woods at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens… something wicked awesome!

Five mythical trolls have taken up residence in the forest at the Botanical Gardens—tucked in the woods and hidden on paths that force visitors to go hunting for the friendly giants just to catch a glimpse of them all.

The father of the trolls is a Danish artist, Thomas Dambo, who considers himself a recycled art activist. Dambo spent the last several weeks creating five, 20-foot-tall sculptures made completely from recycled materials, most of which were found nearby Boothbay.

“I like to think that I write modern folklore stories about the current issues of the world,” explained Dambo, who is trying to share a message of conservation.

For him, they represent the yin and yang of nature.

“If you don’t treat nature nice, then nature will stand up and roar and blow your house over. But if you’re treating nature really, really good, it will provide everything you need,” Dambo said.

He has made a career creating trolls made of trash all around the world.

–Beth McEvoy (NEWS CENTER Maine)”

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The Owl House

Last week we got an email from Maria Michaelson, who lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest on a piece of land on which there are numerous innovative buildings, sculptures, boats, a house bus, and a variety of imaginative constructions. It’s called the Alchemy Art Center.

These buildings are mostly built by my husband, Eben Shay, although we live in a community of 8, so we have all been involved in building them. Eben is a boat builder, so he is always making everything curved. We live in the Pacific Northwest, on San Juan Island. And when we bought our property 6 years ago (with some of the buildings there but needing new roofs and reconstruction) we were very inspired by your Shelter books. We have started a nonprofit art center on the property to host artists in residence and art classes.

Also on Instagram:

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Tattoo Based on My Dad’s 1917 Drawing


I first saw that 1917-18 drawing your father did a few years ago and I knew I wanted to have it as a tattoo someday. I finally was able to make that happen with an artist here in Phoenix, Arizona named Kyle Huskey. I chose him for the task as he does very well with fine line work and texture. Attached is a photo of the tattoo. I think he did the drawing justice!

Thank you,
Ben Garza
Cottonwood, Arizona

My dad did this drawing when he was in high school (Lick-Wilmerding) in San Francisco in 1917-18 or so. He had to go to work after high school, so never got the chance to develop his artistic side. I put it on my blog two years ago and lo and behold! I’m sure my dad would be blown away.

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