builders (168)

Lloyd and Louie Visit 02 Artisans Aggregate in Oakland

Tucker Gorman is an artist/woodworker that I recently met through Foster Huntington. Tucker is one of a group of builders, artists, welders, sculptors, and gardeners that operate out of a number of large buildings in the industrial part of Oakland, Calif. I’d been there last week and took my friend Louie with me to see it all this week. (BTW, Louie is 92 years old and still rides a 500-foot zip line across the Garcia River in Mendocino county to get to his house.)

It’s an amazing setup, with a group of ultra-competent people engaged in all kinds of activities. There are a number of dimensional sawmills — the largest can handle a 5-foot log — and the yards are piled high with stacks of sliced‑into‑slabs logs and stickered lumber of all sorts. In one building, there’s Joinery Structures, a custom sawmill with mills, planers, joiners, sanders, and other milling tools I’ve never seen before.

There’s a greenhouse in which seaweed is dried. There are chickens, guys working on making chicken feed out of food byproducts, a nursery, tanks containing sturgeons, and Soba Ichi: a very cool-looking, fresh noodle restaurant. More photos of it here.

Central to all this is Paul Discoe, a Zen Buddhist priest who studied under Suzuki Roshi at the San Francisco Zen Center and then spent five years studying with a master carpenter in Japan. He’s published a beautiful book, Zen Architecture: The Building Process as Practice.

I don’t have a lot of time (one could spend days writing this place up), but here are a few photos:

Brilliant use of shipping containers

This mill will handle a 5-foot log. With these mills, the blade housing moves on tracks; the log is stationary.

Paul Discoe’s collection of Japanese carpentry tools

More pics to follow when I get time.

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Shelter Books Inspire Carpentry Career

June 20, 2019

Dear Lloyd,

I am writing to thank you for your work as a builder/publisher/disseminator of alternative building inspiration. Your books are what initially set me on the path which I am on today, and I’ve never been happier. I was staying with a friend in Oakland on my way home from hitchhiking the country when I was first shown Shelter II. This must’ve been 2013. I told my friend’s housemate that when I made it back to Washington, I wanted to build a tiny house. “Oh,” he said, “well I have some books you need to look at.” I spent the next two days sitting in their garden, pouring over Shelter II and Builders of the Pacific Coast. Completely engrossed, desperately excited.

Well, I made it back to Washington bought a hammer, and got to work. My blueprints were drawn on 2×4 off-cuts, mostly making it up as I went. Square enough, level enough.

I moved in once the roof was on and spent the next three years finishing it (I never finished it). When it was time to move on from “Shackie Onassis,” we hitched it to a tractor and took it down the road a ways to my friend’s farm where it resides today. While the house was being moved, I rode alongside in my skateboard — I am one of the only people who has skitched their own house (skitching is when you get a vehicle to pull you on your board, but you know that!).

That was years ago now. Today I make money as a carpenter, and I just can’t believe people pay you to do this shit! I love my job, my coworkers, and the places I get to work. I have a regular yoga practice, which is the only way I believe I’ll be able to keep doing building work as I age. I’m 32 right now and I want to keep at this for as long as possible. Yoga is key.

Anyway, I’m just trying to thank you for the work you’ve done. Your aesthetic and approach to building are foundational influences for me. That pic in Builders of the Pacific Coast of Sunray Kelly, barefoot, shirtless, on a roof with an electric chainsaw is still a “Fuck yeah, that’s what I want to be when I grow up” image for me.

–Take care, man, thank you so much for being an inspiration!
Marshall

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Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur

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The inn was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright student Rowan Maiden some 70 years ago and is still lookin good. It was built by brothers Frank and Walter Trotter in 1948. It’s unique in that it’s framed with local 1×12″ redwood, interwoven and sandwiched together. There is no 2″ lumber in the framing at all.

You can sidestep the expensive dinners by getting a draft beer and an “Ambrosia burger” at the bar.

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Old Victorian House in Watsonville

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This old beauty along side Hwy. One in Watsonville, surrounded by 10 acres of organic strawberries and vegetables. Neglected, but the bones are still good. Called the Redman House, it:

“…was constructed in 1897 and designed by William H. Weeks, who was responsible for the design of hundreds of unique buildings throughout California. It was a classic Queen Anne — it featured a rounded corner tower with a turret, gables with meticulously carved panels, Palladian windows and dentil molding. The intricate detailing that Weeks designed for the exterior of the home could also was found inside — expensive and decorative wood, including eastern oak and bird’s eye maple, were used for doors, mantles, and window casings.”

-Wikipedia

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Sculptural Sauna by Travis Skinner

Hey Lloyd, We just finished this sauna, we wanted to share it with ya.

–Travis Skinner

“The Anglerfish Sauna is a wood-fired sauna on wheels! It was built by the Hundred Handed Ones architectural collective that I started in collaboration with Travis Conn.

We use sculptural forms in architectural works. The Anglerfish Sauna showcases these principles in an experience. We ask the audience to step into the work and experience natural forms inspired by life.”

Check out the details here: the fins over the tires, the spine, the light, the teeth…

Travis built a unique tiny home on wheels that was featured in our book Small Homes.

Check out his very creative and highly-crafted designs at pairoducks.blogspot.com.

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Lodge in Allegany Mountains in New York

Log home built by Bill Castle near Belmont in the Allegany Mountains, New York. Bill, a good friend, who unfortunately left this earth a few years back, was a phenomenal builder. He created a resort he called Pollywog Holler and was one of the three featured builders in our book Homework.

The resort Is still going strong. Here’s what it says on their website:

“Named for the serenade of frogs that fills the evening air, Pollywogg Holler is a great camp-style eco-resort in New York’s Southern Tier. The genius of nature and man are showcased in a setting of spectacular beauty, Adirondack-style craftsmanship, solar electricity, and gravity fed spring water. Explore available lodging and book your stay now.”

www.pollywoggholler.com

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Zip Line Coming Across River

This was Louie Frazier riding his zip line when was about 85 years old. It’s a 500-foot cable with a bosun’s chair that he uses to get to his homestead cabin on the other side of the Garcia River (Mendocino County, California) in winter months. Gravity powered. To come back, there’s another tower and zip line on the other side. He’s been doing this for over 40 years. He rebuilt both towers and installed new cables about 7 years ago.

(I’m going back through my photo archives and putting some of them up — what with the new blog design.)

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Casting Call: DIY Network Looking for Off-Grid Home Builder

We just received this email.

Greetings,

My name is Gwendolyn Nix and I’m a casting producer with Warm Springs Productions (www.warmsprings.tv) and the DIY network. I’m currently casting the third season of DIY’s show “Building Off the Grid.” I’m reaching out to you to see if you or anyone you know would be interested in this opportunity.

We’re looking throughout the United States for folks who will soon be building an off-grid dwelling (i.e. starting within in the next few months). We cannot consider homes that are already underway.

All types of structures can be considered i.e. straw bale, earthship, tiny homes, yurts, container homes, earth-sheltered, log, stick-built, or whatever else your imagination comes up with! If you’re chosen for this project there is generous pay involved.

If you’re interested, please reach me at the contact information that follows my signature via either email or phone.

Please note, in order to be considered for the show, the home must be built on the land where it will ultimately exist (as opposed to being built in a warehouse and then transported to the land).

Here is a sneak peek link to the show: https://www.diynetwork.com/shows/building-off-the-grid

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Gwendolyn Nix
Casting Producer & Social Media Manager
Warm Springs Productions
Cell: 406-214-6405
Email: gnnix@warmsprings.tv
Available 9am-5pm Mountain Standard Time

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Bill Castle’s Log Lodge in Alleghany Mountains

Going through all my digital photos of the past 17 years, pulling out photos for my book in progress, The Half Acre Homestead, I’m running across forgotten gems, like this. Bill and family created Pollywogg Holler, an inn in southeast New York state — featured in Home Work — entirely from trees growing on their land. Bill passed away a few years back, but Polywogg Holler lives on. It’s now an eco-resort: https://www.pollywoggholler.com/

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