crafts (81)

Grandpa Built a Car

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When my father was 5 years old, he was riding a tricycle on the street in Alameda and a train came along and the wheel cut off 4 of the toes on his left foot. When he was in the hospital, his dad promised him he’d build him a car. Which he did. I just discovered this photo in the family archives. My dad didn’t let the injury slow him down, he played tennis in high school and was an avid duck hunter and fisherman. I’m so proud of him, for his courage, and grandpa for his soulful kid’s car (with bicycle wheels).

(I just discovered this photo in an old family album, with my dad’s explanation written on the back; I’d never heard the story.)

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Stone Barn

I’m going through my photo archives these days. I realize I have a wealth of building photos accumulated over a 50+ year period. I can’t recall where I shot this; it was somewhere on the several trips I took through Ireland and England in the ’70s. I was on a journey to study real building, after giving up on geodesic domes. Going from mathematically derived buildings, often built with highly processed materials, to studying construction methods based on local materials, site-specific experience, and fine craftsmanship was a revelation.

This stone barn, for example, is almost unreal in its simplicity and master masonry — both in the walls and stone (slate?) roof.

Note: See the wonderful thread of comments below.

BTW, I’m in a new mode these days of trying to put up blog and Instagram posts at least 5 days a week. I’ve sure got a lot of “content.”

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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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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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Garden Furniture with Tenon Cutter

I’ve had this tenon cutter attachment for years, just started using it. I just cut down an old wild plum tree and am going to make a garden chair out of plum wood. Fun! I got this from Lee Valley, a great source of carpentry tools.

I recently got the Makita drill — not battery driven, but with cord — from Jackson’s Hardware in San Rafael. It would have been cheaper from Amazon, but at Jackson’s, I get expert human advice. I use Amazon a lot, but also skirt them often. There are other factors to consider when buying stuff other than what’s cheapest.

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