About 8 years ago I came across an ad in the newspaper selling ‘authentic Mongolian yurts’. Intrigued, I showed the ad to Molly. It gets a little cramped in our 1,100 sf home when we have visitors and a yurt sounded like it would make a perfect guesthouse for us. ( A yurt is a large circular tent- about 300 square feet. Nomads use them as their housing moving them as they follow their herds across the steppes of Asia. They are actually called gers in Mongolia but we’ll stick with the term westerners are more familiar with.) » » »
Almost exactly a year ago my sister Heidi, her boyfriend Alan and his daughter Ellen came out to visit. Never ones to miss an opportunity to advance a building project we put Alan to work helping to put a roof on what was just a papercrete ring at the time. It was a big push and as they left, I promised that I would finish covering the roof so that all our hard work wouldn’t be in vain. Alan, it turns out, isn’t one to let an opportunity to go by either. In the past year he managed to finagle Heidi into agreeing to marry him and produce an exact replica of himself.
Congratulations on the cloning efforts guys!
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In New Mexico the kids get out of school really early- the week before Memorial day weekend. Most years there is still a nip in the morning air. Mike and I spent the last few days tightening down our family vacation plans along with the girls’ semi-complex schedules with their other parents. Sharing the girls with two other sets of parents plus all the grandparents/step-grandparents can get complicated over the summer! Our next thoughts led us to gardening projects, which we worked on all weekend.
The physical work seems to get us going. The next thing I knew Mike was building a tool shed in the back and we were both dreaming of building a guest rental cabin on our property. Inspiration is only ever a few clicks away on the computer. Coincidentally Mike came across this post on The Improvised Life last week that got our brain cells broiling…
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Last Friday one of our readers, Tina Phillips, shared an intriguing link on our facebook page. It was about an experimental building method called spaceplates being developed by the Danish collective N55 that looks suspiciously like the future of building from the late 60’s.
Based on the research of the late Danish engineer Ture Wester, spaceplates are a rigid, light weight modular building system. Being a pure plate structure, there are no other structural members than thin plates, bent at all edges to achieve a simple, mechanical assembly method. While the design and the production requires digital technology, the structure itself can be assembled using only hand tools. » » »
Last weekend we held a papercrete making workshop. It was divided into two parts. The first half we cast some blocks and the second half we added to the walls we started last year. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. About 10 people showed up.
Mike: I had no idea how many people we would have, whether it would be 5 or 55…
Molly: 10 was a great amount. Not so many we were overwhelmed and not so few that we felt like the workshop had no draw.
I have to admit there was a Tom Sawyer aspect to this class. It worked out quite well. Everyone got to try stacking blocks while I kept them supplied with mortar and advice. We got the rest of the walls completed in a couple hours! The first half took us most of a day.
Molly: It felt great to make a big push on the greenhouse project.
Mike: What should we teach next? How to cover a yurt roof?
Molly: YUP!!!! » » »
This Saturday, May 5th, we’re putting on a papercrete greenhouse building workshop In conjunction with Homegrown New Mexico. If you’re thinking paper whodiewaha? Check out these posts on papercrete where I go over what it is, how to make papercrete blocks and how to make your own papercrete mixer.
The greenhouse has been a work in progress for the past
three four years. Every year around plant starting time I’m kicking myself for not finishing it. I’ll bet we get a bunch done this weekend though. Hopefully the momentum will carry forward and the greenhouse will get finished this year. » » »
Growing vegetables is a big part of our spring and summer around here. We like to grow our own food as much as we can. Once you start you get spoiled. The produce in the grocery store, while it looks good, pales in comparison when it comes to flavor and freshness. We just had green beans last night from the store. They looked great. The taste?….Meh…..
Don’t get me started on Whole
Foods Paycheck either. You don’t really save money gardening unless you happen to shop there. I don’t know why they have all those buttons on their cash registers since it seems that they simply take the number of items you picked out and multiply it by $20.
Back to gardening… » » »
We have four outbuildings that serve as storage and workspaces. One started life as a carport/privacy screen from the neighbors and later turned into a full fledged building. We call it the garage though there are no cars in it. It does double duty as Molly’s fabric/project storage and a small shop for Mike.
Another building started life as a shed for a biodeisel plant Mike was going to build but ended up becoming the home for the CNC machine instead. Recently the CNC machine moved down the road to his inventor’s club co-founder and buddy Rick’s house. With it gone we decided to rethink the outbuildings.
Currently Molly does most of her projects in the living room.
Molly: It’s not a terrible situation but if I only have an hour to work on something it’s tough to get it all pulled out just to pack it back up again.
Mike: We’ve decided to have his-n-her’s studios. Molly will take over the old CNC shop and move her stuff out of the garage. I’ll reconfigure the garage to make it into my workshop. » » »
We like to brag about our double wide. How great it is that we only need 1,100 sq ft in which to live our lives. We are so high and mighty about how we don’t need all that space and anyways who really wants to clean all those extra bathrooms?
But our dirty little secret is that we have more square footage in our outbuildings than we have in our house. We sprinkle hints here and there that we have hoarding tendencies which we will go into further at some point…maybe. For now we’ll leave that tucked away in one of our ‘buildings’.
Juliette (Molly’s friend): No, I think one can tell when they walk in your front door. You have lots of ‘things’. Things you use but lots of things, piled. Neat piles, but piles.
Molly: Really Juliette?
Juliette: I benefit from all your piles. When we come over there’s always plenty to play with! » » »
If you’re new to this series this is a segment of a long story about how we bought a yurt. It was ravaged by our climate and started to die. After some deliberation we decided it should be reborn in papercrete. Check out the links for the back story. Up to speed? Great. Moving on….
When we last left the yurt the walls were built and there was a start at getting a roof designed and constructed. My sister Heidi had been instrumental in getting enthusiasm going for the project again. We think she was ready to stay in a guest house instead of on the couch when she came to visit. » » »