natural materials (281)

Check Out Our Photos Now on Tumblr

Above: Caleb and Louise’s hand-built home near West Cornwall, Connecticut, in the early ’70s

Sean Hellfritsch gave us the idea of using Tumblr for good quality photos; he started it and now Brittany Cole Bush is continuing to put up photos, some old, some recent.

Click here: https://shelterpub.tumblr.com/

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Which Cover Do You Like Best?

Rick and I are in the final stages of preparing Small Homes for the printers. We changed the cover from an earlier version, which showed a small turn-of-the-century home in Santa Cruz (in this revised cover, it’s the middle image in the left hand column), because a single image didn’t seem to represent the diversity of images (120 or so small homes) in the book. Hence the collage.

Below are two alternatives, the same except for the background color. In the one with the red, it’s similar-looking to Home Work, Builders of the Pacific Coast, and Tiny Homes on the Move. Some of our savvy book friends think it’s too similar, and that another color would distinguish it from the other books. Hence the other with the dark green background.

Comments, please. Which do you like? Do you see any problem in this cover being similar to our other books?

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Natural Building Colloquium – High Desert, Southern California Oct. 17th-22nd, 2016

“Focusing on the West Coast and South West

Quail Springs is an educational and land stewardship nonprofit organization dedicated to demonstrating and teaching holistic ways of designing human environments, restoring and revitalizing the land and community, and facilitating deeper understandings of ourselves and one another through immersive experiences in nature. The 2016 Colloquium organizing team consists of the whole Quail Springs team, Sasha Rabin*, Tammy Van, and Rebekah Hacker.”

“The gathering will give focus and priority to the building and builders of the west coast and south west, US.
​ We ask that all people attending the colloquium have some experience with natural building. This is not the event for the novice builder. That being said, we value the fresh eyes and perspectives, and enthusiasm that comes with a newness to the field. We will strive for a balance of experienced attendees, while also encouraging the next generation of builders.…”

https://www.earthenshelter.com/colloquium.html

*Sasha’s beautiful cob house will be in Small Homes.

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It’s All About Building

Small Homes – the book

I’ve got pretty much all the pages laid out. Rick will be back from Hawaii next week and build the rest of the pages in InDesign. The book is looking better each week. Here’s a little hidden waterfront cottage (under construction) on Vancouver Island, BC (the shakes for the eaves were steamed and bent).

Material continues to come in for the book (400-1200 sq. ft. homes), and we’ll continue the book after its publication on theshelterblog, with a section titled “Small Homes.” Ongoing small homes.

My Next Book (?)

Adventures in Building – a 70-Year Odyssey

No kidding. I started at 12 years old, helping my dad build a house on his rice farm near Colusa, California. At 18 I got into the carpenters’ union in San Francisco and worked for a shipwright on the docks (SF was a port in those days!). At age 25 I started building and remodeling on a piece of land with 3 cottages in Mill Valley, California.

I never got the chance to work with a master carpenter or formally learn architecture, so I had a layman’s approach. Everything was new.

Right off, I liked the smell of lumber, and was fascinated with how things went together (still am). In about 12 buildings over the course of years, I personally went through post and beam, then polyhedral (domes), and finally stud frame construction techniques.

And all along, I shot pictures of buildings, collected books, and interviewed builders about all types of buildings and materials, and so far, have produced 6 highly graphic books on building.

Having this layman’s view means I can talk to inexperienced builders in understandable terms. Plus, all the travel and studying and interviews have given me a wealth of material of interest to experienced builders. We’re all interested in how things are put together. That’s what building is all about.

Música del día:

Etta James “Come Back Baby”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdFcg7zkhqM

Enough! I’m heading for the beach…

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Bruno’s Hand-hewn Froe Mallet

Bruno Atkey, one of the major builders in Builders of the Pacific Coast, has been splitting cedar shakes for most of his life. He split the shakes for my 6-sided tower roof from driftwood logs (and his girlfriend Mecea drove them down here in a van). He’s split cedar shakes, and even siding, in British Columbia for numerous homes over the years.

Godfrey Stephens sent us this photo of Bruno’s latest mallet. (I use an old bowling pin.) In the background is one of Godfrey’s paintings.

Here’s a photo of a froe:

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Small Homes Book Rolling

Workwise, I’m having more fun than in a coon’s age.

This book—Small Homes—was in limbo for the 30 days we were in Scotland. Add to that the several weeks it took to get re-grounded at home, and there was a long lull in production (layout, that is).

WELL! The book is now rolling at a grand pace. This lovely little home just came in a few days ago.  French carpenter Menthé (partner of French carpenter Yogan) wrote, rather poetically:

“I grew up in the forest of Corréze; it’s really wild and green. 

I started building cabins when I was 3 years old, playing in the forest. 

I started this little one when I was 17 in 2000—I wanted my independence. 

It took me 3 years, and I lived there for 2 years.

The frame is made of chestnut from the forest, and all the windows are industrial window seconds.

The roof is insulated with lime and woodchips—a really strong mixture once it’s dry and insects can’t get in.

The walls are made of straw and lime; it’s a really cheap material, important when you’re young without money.

I built the entrance door with chestnut and walnut—my first work of joinerie, and it’s still working good.…”

***

This is gonna be such a good book!

Música del día: Cool Dry Place, Traveling Wilburys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD8mBMn5F5k

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Stone Cottage Overlooking Sea On Scottish Island

Everything here is perfect. It’s one of the buildings where I just say to myself, oh yeah!

The rounded, angled-out corners, the  proportions, the deep wall openings, the red roof.

According to an historical account which I read, some 14 farm families were forced to leave their land by landlords in the mid-1800s, and resettled on a more remote and less fertile part of the island. This is one of the dwellings; in its day, it would have had a thatched roof.

And with this I conclude posts from Scotland. I’m back in the saddle at home and back at work on Small Homes.

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Model of Tiny Home

We’ll be selling our books at The Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., in May, and we decided to build a model tiny home for display. Our friend Tom agreed to make the model. It turned out that he got into it and spent over a month (not full time) on the project. He said he could have built the full size building in the same amount of time. It’s put together with glue. Window shutters and doors open on hinges.

The full size building is 10′ x 16′, scale here is 1 inch = 1 foot, so this is 10″ wide, 16″ long.  Single wall construction (no studs).

Materials for model:

Siding: cedar; bats: oak

Shakes: cedar

Ridge beams: redwood

Shutters: cedar

Door: walnut

Door and window trim: oak

It’s a little beauty.

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