salvaged materials (61)

Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead

When I start working on a book, it’s like setting out on an ocean voyage without a map. I get a theme, an idea, some kind of coherence on a subject,* then start.

When I built my first house in Mill Valley in the early ’60s, my friend Bob Whiteley and I laid out the foundation lines in chalk on the ground. “What do we do now, Bob,” I asked.

Bob said “This,” and took pick and shovel and started digging the foundation trench.

It’s been my M.O. all my life. When I don’t know what to do, I start. Things (usually) sort themselves out in the process. (I know, I know, I’ve said all this before…)

This book is about the tools and techniques Lesley and I have evolved in building a home and growing food (and creating a bunch of things) on a small piece of land over a 40+-year period.

I started by writing it in chapters: The House / The Kitchen / Kitchen Tools / The Garden / Garden Tools / Chickens / Food / Foraging/ /Fishing / The Shop / Shop / Shop Tools / Roadkill / Critters…What we’ve learned; what’s worked, what hasn’t…

Then I went through some 50,000 digital pictures and picked out 7-800 photos, printed them out contact sheets (12-up) and started organizing them under the above categories.

Next step: starting to put pages together; I am totally excited. I have (kind of unknowingly) been gathering material for this book for decades.

Now I gotta get out of here. Not only is it a gorgeous fresh spring day, but it’s my time of the year. Tauruses are feelin good…

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Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in Arizona

I’ve just been going through old photos and came across photos from 2002 of my cousin Mike’s place in Arizona, which he called Eliphante. Mike was one year younger than me and we hung out when we were kids. We looked a lot alike.

He was an artist all his life, painting and drawing from an early age. After high school, I went off to Stanford and he went to UC Santa Barbara (where he threw the javelin on the track team), and we didn’t get back in touch until the ’60s, when we both were caught up in the cultural revolution, psychedelics and all.

By then, he was living New York, where he did portraits and sold paintings on the sidewalks around Washington Square. Then he moved to Provincetown, Cape Cod, where he worked as a waiter to support his painting habit.

In  the ’70s he moved to the Arizona desert and, and partially based on seeing Bob De Buck’s wild creations in Shelter (pp.144-147), he started building what turned out to be a series of buildings. The windows in the room above are auto windshields he got for free, and stained glass applied inside with silicone caulk. There is a section on Mike and his wife Leda in our 2004 book Home Work (pp. 121-129).

Mike passed away 10 years ago, but Eliphante lives on.

https://www.eliphante.com/

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html

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Heritage Salvage TV Show Pilot Airs Sunday April 9th, 2017, at 8PM PST

This is a pilot for a series of shows on DIY TV by Michael “Bug” Deakin and his crew of recyclers from Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, California.

Bug says: “All across America, century-old structures are falling down and forgotten — but I believe these buildings deserve a second chance.”

Here’s a 40-second sneak preview of the pilot, which airs this Sunday:

Also, if you’re ever in Petaluma, stop by Heritage at 1473 Petaluma Blvd.. They have 300,000 board feet of used lumber, a ton of table-top slabs cut from large trees, some beautiful wide t&g flooring milled from windfall Maple trees, etc. Check their stock out at: https://heritagesalvage.com

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