woodwork (39)

Handcrafted Homes in Pennsylvania Woods

A terrific article in today’s NYTimes (3/16/20) online by Michael Snyder, with great photos by Chris Mottalini.

Everything about this story and the photos struck me as right. I felt at home here. I love the rumpled bed in the second photo. I also like the idea of an “alternative to modernism.” 

How Two Children Are Keeping Their Father’s Design Legacy Alive

A pair of Pennsylvania homes constructed by the Japanese-American furniture designer George Nakashima have become an enduring testament to mid-century folk craft.

“From 1946, when he founded his studio on a three-acre plot in New Hope, a historic artist’s colony halfway between New York City and Philadelphia, to his death in 1990 at the age of 85, Nakashima devoted his life to transforming slabs of walnut, cherry, burled maple and redwood into coffee tables shaped like pools of water, Shaker-style chairs with hand-whittled spindles and dining-room tables fashioned from slices of tree trunks, their cracks and seams bridged with joints like butterflies caught in amber. ‘He felt his work was a form of integral yoga: How you work and live is all connected,’ his daughter, Mira, 78, told me on a damp, gray morning last fall while showing me around the grounds of the studio, which she has run since her father’s death. Organic, improvisational and individual, the tens of thousands of objects he made in the course of his lifetime were also functional, meant for daily use; they were, Mira says, “the antithesis of Modernism, a protest against mass production.”

“But the homes where Mira and Kevin live, patinated and imperfect and crowded with debris, more fully capture the spirit of mingei. Less an antithesis to Modernism than an alternative to it, such projects embraced 20th-century idioms while refusing to accept industrial mass production as the fundamental fact of modernity. ‘Dad always said that building furniture was just like architecture but smaller,’ Mira says. In his houses for his children, the opposite holds true: Like Nakashima’s tables and chairs, they can be read as works of folk art, useful objects that, as Yanagi wrote, ‘honestly fulfill the practical purpose for which they were made.’”

www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/t-magazine/george-nakashima-legacy.html

Article sent us by Elizabeth Kirkland

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SunRay’s Treehouse Masterpiece

Just when you think maybe SunRay has done all he’s gonna do — like major buildings — he pulls off this wild soaring, spiraling, 4-story log-framed structure in the woods. The spiral turrets up top are just insane. I mean, holy shit! SunRay rolls on, a true Spirit of Nature in his designs, carried out with incredible (and intuitive) building skills.

I wrote Uncle Mud (aka Chris McClellan) about SunRay’s latest (I’d seen a pic on @cabinporn) and he responded:

Lloyd,

I was there in 2018 during the rebuild after the fire so I don’t have anything newer than framing, which I have enclosed. Bonnie sends this video. I’m off to the mountains of Jamaica to teach mud building again next week. The village of Nine Mile is very sweet to us. The little kids call me “Meesta Mood”. People there make $20 a day but a sack of cement costs $10 so no one every finishes their house. When we were there in 2018 we taught them how to make windows out of bottles that get thrown by the side of the road, putting up a rough “Tree of Life” window in the dead of night before our flight home. When we came back in 2019 we were treated to this lovely view of the finished window.

(I’ll put up Mud’s photos in a later post.)

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Homesteading in Remote Parts of Alaska and Massachusetts

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve been digging through your books hard lately. We bought a house with 3 acres about an hour north of Boston and I’ve been homesteading it up. Building terraces for the garden, stonework, improvements for the sawmill barn, and extensive landscaping. I’ve yet to dig into the inside house work.

Anyway, I first heard about your work while up on an 80-acre parcel with a homestead in the deep interior of Alaska. My buddies dad quit architecture school just before graduation and got a big chunk of land under the homestead act in the late ’70s. Out of Anchorage, I took two small planes to get picked up by a boat for another 1.5-hour boat ride upriver.

Anyway, my buddy who summers there, said you gotta look at this book.  It was: Shelter. I was intoxicated. That was 15 years ago. You know in life we seem to find things at the right time in life?  Now sorting through your recent publications (early 2000s on) it’s the perfect tonic as i dig into new crazy projects. I’ve got a sauna and a treehouse on my mind right now.  I run a fancy-pants tree pruning company and run a backyard sawmill operation while also a full-time high school arboriculture teacher. Well anyway, thanks for all your work on these magnificent publications.  The Builders of the Pacific Coast book was possibly my favorite for my needs right now. I liked seeing you really dig into some talented individuals.

What is next for you? One book that I think would be interesting is some exploration of East Coast modern homesteaders. I’ve got a bunch of friends in the Maine/NH area that are doing some pretty special things. A book I started, but shelved was interviewing Massachusetts Sawmills and photographing sawmills today and discuss the changing paradigm that sawmills are faced in a world lumber market. It’s a weird world.

Anyway, I’m just rambling, but just wanted to say thanks.

I document some of my homestead efforts on instagram @sherwood_homestead.

Chris Wood
Ravenswood Tree and Landscape LLC
Newton, NH 03858

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Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur

209790

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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Mortise and Tenon Cedar Cabin

This mortise and tenon cabin out of yellow cedar was built by my dad and stepmom about 30 years ago. Its design was taken from my stepmom’s grandfather, who was a carver and builder named Dudley Carter.

A few other versions of this building stand along the West Coast. The first one was built in the ’30s in Big Sur, although the design is North Coast–inspired. This is one of my favorite little buildings, with its timeless look, glass walls, and timber joinery.

We have made a few small sleeping cabins inspired by this building, but not truly mortise and tenon like the originals. Hopefully one day we can.

–Marlin Hanson

Note: See book Small Homes for “Timber Home Along Canada’s Sunshine Coast,” by Marlin Hanson

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