crafts (116)

Yogan’s New Tower in France

From our good friend Yogan and crew in France. He has turned out to be a master carpenter!

Here are pictures of the new tower on our workshop:

We just finished the four-sided roof with three lucarnes (dormer windows) and a campanile (small roof on top of the roof).

The frame is chestnut and oak, squared by hand; the roof framing is complex due to the four-sided roof. We had to use the old technique for assembling all the tenons and mortises.

The tiles are made with a 100-year-old machine, by a little local artisan; they are beautiful in their irregularity. They are assembled with hooks on small horizontal purlins of poplar. We used plaster mortar to assemble the four edges.

On the top there is an épis de faîtage, a ceramic sculpture for a beautiful headpiece.

We built it during a four-week workshop, with a lot of people helping.

The basement of the tower is in stone, the first floor, is our office. It’s made in colombage, all in wood, and between is a mix of wood chips and lime, covered with with a sand and lime plaster.

In our workshop, we work on different buildings, gazebos, structures for big festivals, sets for movies…

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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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Cabins of the Yukon

This is one the best building books I’ve ever seen. These cabins are tuned in, just right. I’ll bet they are all designed and built by builders — refreshingly, not by architects.

Photos are elegant, layout outstanding.

Everything is just right.

At this time only available from publisher in Canada. (I’m encouraging Finella to get it more widely distributed.}

I totally recommend this book.

(I apologize for my photos of the pages, shot on iPhone, not greatest quality of reproduction.)

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Mortise and Tenon Attic

Attic in Kelmscott Manor (near Oxford, UK), home of William Morris, founder of The Arts and Crafts Movement in England. Photo by Frederic H. Evans.

From the chapter of my forthcoming book Live From California: Breaking Free in the ’60s titled “Studying the Art of Building,” which details my trip to England to study real building after giving up on domes.

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A Round Barn Rises in Rural America

LOGAN COUNTY, Okla. — A curiosity rises amid the wheat fields along rural Highway 33, which cuts through the town of Guthrie.

It’s an immense, circular building — about 15,000 square feet inside — with a domed roof topped by an ornate cupola and a copper eagle. Standing at 72 feet, it is visible for miles on the flat Oklahoma expanse.

Jay Branson is building it in his backyard. He calls it his round barn, but it’s more of a prairie cathedral.

He has been working on it for seven years. As he builds, strangers come. They pull off the highway, haul up his long driveway and stare.

Some, overcome by the beauty, have wept upon seeing the inside of the dome, with its ascending rings of interlocking diamonds and octagons that Jay cut by hand from poplar wood.

At the top is an oculus, a round opening in the roof, like in the Pantheon in Rome. When sunlight streams in, the effect is downright heavenly.

LA Times
MARCH 9, 2023

Sent us by Maui Surfer

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Man, 89, built his own ‘Hobbit House’ in Highlands where he lives almost entirely off-grid

Great-grandfather Stuart Grant, 89, moved into the cottage he bought as a wreck with no roof and no doors in 1984, while he was renovating a house.

But he found it so satisfying doing DIY on the quirky outbuilding which dated back 200 years, that he decided to make it his home.…

From comment on blog by Anon, Feb 13, 2023

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The Bell and Marcus Three-Ring Circus

Years ago, Bolinas artist Terry Bell and our neighbor, craftsman Jim Marcus created a series of rubber stamps based on circus performers. They were wonderful and Lesley and I ended up buying a set.

However, they weren’t able to sell enough sets to make it a viable business. Terry passed away a few years ago.

Recently Jim decided to create some 3D objects from the drawings; here is Jim’s description of the process:

“I decided to try mounting the stamped images on 1/16″ plywood and cutting them out on my scroll saw with a very thin blade.

I was surprised at the different presence they had, and am enjoying making more of them.

The bases seem to give them an importance that they didn’t have on sheets of paper … but the forms are so beautifully drawn, that seen in this way, I think they can be ‘seen’ as the beautiful pieces they are.”

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