Saturday, February 20, 2016

View Artwork in a Quick Break From Construction Updates!

I've decided to begin posting photographs of my artwork here on my blog.  Though the artwork is not directly part of the development of my little house on wheels, it is both a significant reason for building my house, and a part of the plan for keeping it going in the future.  Having images on my blog will give me a simple path to direct others to see it, and on the "Portfolio Page" a vehicle for me to post updates on my artistic process.  Once I solve a few technical difficulties, hopefully folks can enjoy some sort of slideshow of my work!  For today, here is a watercolor painted at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, KY.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Preparing for Tiny Open House

Kyle took two interesting panoramic shots, while the house was almost empty in readiness for the varnishing. Once the varnishing was complete, I could spend time basically mocking up the interior again, to have a tiny open house and test the gallery/gift shop/art sale/house tour idea.  Lots of details could be caught up on for this event, which I used as a deadline for a few long-put off tasks.

Kyle did a great job of cutting down the back of my futon frame, to reuse it for my windowseat/guest bed.   Here he is marking cutting lines so he will end up fitting these new ends back into their old slots on the frame.  I found the futon frame, which is rock maple, in pieces out on the street, awaiting garbage pickup, back in 1993.  I spent $4 at that time for what turns out to be standard "futon hardware" at a futon store, used it in my living room for 22 years, and am now happily transforming it to continue its already long life.

The hinge is up and closest to view at this angle; the main seat will be screwed to the board that may be seen already attached to the aft wall, under the double window. When finished, the front flap will flip up to level and create a standard single-bed-sized sleeping place.

The two three foot by five foot sheets of 1/2" wedi material have been slapped up in the shower stall, in preparation for the many questions I foresee being asked at my tiny open house.

Naturally I wanted to be sure the "utility trailer" registration was up-to-date for the event.


And how delightful to think all the wiring on the outside of the trailer itself would be complete, instead of being merely roadworthy according to the rules.  All the signals and lights will be installed.

Of course having an open house also meant I would have to dig through boxes and root around in packing material for artwork to present at the event!   This small ceramic sculpture is one in a series of trees carved and sculpted from a brown clay body, and glazed with a crawling glaze to suggest the gnarly bark of a tree. Each piece has its own gesture and personality, and the whole "clan" works together well too.

 Here a youthful inspector rates the fun quotient of the loft bedroom area.  It got high marks. We almost didn't get her back down the ladder.

I put silk flowers in several of the gaps left by the paneling process in the interior of the house; over time I will be adding a shallow shelf along here, but for the open house I wanted to hide the gaps, and liven up the interior a little too.

I took a photo of this announcement card and emailed and texted it to as many people as I could, after spending a long time with the stamps and some markers, and the layout of the piece.  Very fun! 

Insulation Inching Toward Completion

This shot gives an idea of the jigsaw-puzzle-like result of efforts put forth by me and my friend C, as we insulated around the wiring in the loft bow wall.  For these last insulation tasks, 1" rigid polyurethane foam was used; I was not interested in cutting up little pieces of the polyiso for this application -- those fiberglass fibers in the tar paper facing are too irritating.  So this space will end up with three inches of insulation, with lower r value than the polyiso, and gaps around the wires too.  Luan facing over this area will probably allow me to get back in with spray foam if I feel it is needed later, but I will wait and see.

There are really three layers of jigsaw puzzles when this rigid foam is installed, because the wiring is not always in the same plane as the sheathing -- it was a sort of mesmerizing task, potentially ever more nit-picky with regard to filling ever smaller empty spaces, but satisfying. This is the first floor bow wall, where both 120V circuits and all the 12V wiring comes together to go through the wall into the shed, where my 120V electrical panel and 12V fuse block will be installed.

The last frontier -- the shower stall stud walls -- has to wait until the spar varnish is on and dry, so the heater can be moved and the insulation bays may be reached.  "The weather outside is frightful," to quote a popular song!  [Note:  Due to the laxness of my blog editorial deadlines, this work was actually done probably in January or February 2014.  All the painting had to be coordinated around the overnight temperatures, and then everything else coordinated around that!]

After three inches of rigid polyurethane foam were installed, it turned out there was a half inch of depth left, so...


I installed some reflective insulation as well.  I can't wait to get the last areas of exposed insulation covered up with luan, beadboard, and wedi board!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

...The Shed That Kyle Built

After much discussion and many sketches and online perusing of others' designs, I decided on the design of a shed to be built on the tongue of the trailer, to house marine deep cycle batteries and solar equipment, propane tanks, and 12V fuse block and 120V electric panel, as well as various extension cords, water hoses and tools.  Here a view from the ground looking up shows the welded angle-iron tray bolted to the trailer frame, constructed to support the shed.  The tray was made by M, Kyle's wife, blacksmith and metalworker extraordinaire, the same artisan who custom-made my hammered copper shower pan.

Looking down on the floor of the shed as Kyle installs studs.  The same good friends who donated the borate-treated lumber for the skirting on the trailer provided the 2" x 8" planks here.

A look at the framing of the shed walls. The finished depth is 18" from the house wall to the front of the angle iron tray. Shed side walls are 12" inside the side walls of the house itself, and the shed roof rafters (all two of them!) are 12" down from the first house roof  rafter.

Here the rafters have been installed, and the shed roof sheathed with 3/8" plywood.

A view of the shed profile from the starboard side of the tiny house.  Roof membrane and flashing were used here to help weatherize the shed space.  -- By the way, note the pesky roof membrane curtain is still in use at the starboard eave, rolled down over the somewhat fragile, if well insulated, temporary entry door.  This curtain, however pesky, did not prevent moisture from sneaking into the luan and particle board of this inexpensive interior hollow core door, and swelling irritatingly.  By the time we have gotten this door in good shape, we will have altered it so much we might as well have built a custom door, but it took a long time to realize, or admit, that the 240 year-old door from Machamux was not going to be a very good choice of entry door from a practical standpoint, so all fussing on the hollow core door has been done incrementally, as it became obvious that this may be the door for (pardon the pun) the long haul.

Into the lower part of the port side of the shed will be built a metal-lined box to eventually house two 20 pound propane tanks. Here Kyle has built the plywood sides of the box.

A view looking up into the peak of the shed roof shows the opening cut through into the sleeping loft to the right of the photo.  The upper portion of the shed will be insulated and accessible only from the sleeping loft, a sort of storage cubby, which may possibly end up holding a water tank and providing a bit of a gravity feed for my sink basin in the kitchen area inside the house proper.

Two feather pillows were stuffed into one of the loft windows, to block light from the street, on a wintry night when I slept in the house for the first time.  Naturally this was during the very short time period when the cubby opening was cut through to the unfinished shed, and "sealed" only by a piece of plastic sheeting, allowing a gentle and frigid breeze to penetrate the sleeping area.  Truly like camping in a wooden tent.

Naturally I didn't have a great night's sleep, tucking blankets around me and hunkering down into my cocoon, because it was so new and different to be in the space, but it was very nice waking up to a bright sunny morning, and looking out into the tops of the winter trees on C's front lawn. 

In this photo it may  be seen that shed construction continues: here the cedar trim on the face of the shed has been installed, allowing the siding boards to be attached over the house wrap.  Behind what we called the "pentagon" at the peak of the shed will be that cubby, open only to the loft.

A certain amount of time was spent researching options for roofing the shed.  I wanted it to go with the feel of the house, but be a little different and noticable.  One option was cedar shingles cut into patterns.  I loved the idea of these, but in place, they looked too busy, and strangely out of place.  My tiny house is not and never can be a Victorian Painted Lady it seems.

This view shows the gorgeous all-cedar shed doors, designed by Kyle after the doors our friends had just installed on their woodshed.  I am very, very happy with them, although they are potentially dangerous in a high wind (which is often blowing on the hill where the house is parked at the moment!), and one must remember to tie them open to avoid being bonked on the head or elbow when not looking.

Further research entails having Kyle hold up several different colors and types of corrugated roofing material, to see if any of the colors gives me the effect I want, as well as being lightweight and sturdy.  

Since this tree of life sculpture (made from the lid of a 55 gallon drum in Haiti, and brought as a gift from a good friend who spent time there in the Peace Corps) will likely be mounted on the face of the shed, in the "pentagon" area, it added to the composition of colors and shapes on which the roofing choice depended.

Reddish fiberglass and rubber(?) composite roofing sheet. Nice color, but not quite right.  Also quite heavy, and a bit pricey.

Silver galvanized roofing is nice too, but didn't work here either.  The shed roof area is so small that I didn't want the material to look so different from everything else that it called attention to itself.

This green plastic was inexpensive and simple, also very lightweight and tempting, but the green color would have to be darker to stop it from clashing with the standing seam roof on the house.  Sigh.

Here is a view of the finished shed, in which unfortunately the split cedar shake roof, my final choice, cannot be seen!! But I am quite satisfied with its blending in with the rest of the exterior elements of the house.  I asked Kyle to stain the shakes with the same stain/sealer that we used on the house siding itself, as well as the cedar boards for the trim, and the shed.  I will try to post another photo that shows the shakes soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Editing Belongings & ...

The belongings I have collected, received, and made myself for so many years have filled my spaces almost to the rim.  Historical value, creative potential, sentiment, and portfolio value are layered over many of my tangible belongings, to say nothing of the viewing or reading pleasure of my art collection and library.  Items which are "aides memoire"  were photographed so as not to be entirely lost as triggers for my fond memories.

Editing certain categories of my multiple collections has freed numerous items to be given to charity or the whimsy of friends and acquaintances. After living with countless baskets over the years, for instance, I know which are likely to be most useful in my tiny house, and the first sorting released more than half of the empty ones.

Disassembling other collections takes a little time, and preparing carefully collected glass terrarium jars to move back into usefulness to the world meant cleaning some out so they would be better appreciated by their new owners.  Only a small portion of my belongings may have this attention given to them, and as the ball gets rolling, my winnowing out is done in broader strokes.

Serendipitously, a friend's friend (an apprentice tradeswoman) moved into her first apartment, and had little in the way of kitchen items and linens, so numerous bags and boxes and even pieces of furniture made their way to her, with a satisfying sense of good timing; a win-win situation.

As a voracious reader for pleasure, I have amassed a number of fairly complete sets of the writings of certain authors, and in many cases the decision to retain them has been a no-brainer.  A wall of shelves in my "storage depot" will take care of them neatly, and allow me periodic library privileges to keep my tiny house stocked with enjoyable reading matter.

Having inherited countless delightful table linens, doilies, dishes, etc., especially from my father's mother, I have treasured their beauty for years, without actually using many of them in my daily life.  So now I have the opportunity for a watershed moment, to pass some on to friends or relatives, or to release them to the world through the online estate sale I have planned.

Among the categories of clothing to release is that of wool, sheepswool, angora and cashmere, many knitted items of which were passed on to me.  Many people do not seem to wear these materials much anymore. I met a woman who recycles/upcycles wool garments by unraveling and winding up the yarns, and then crocheting adorable stuffed animals from them.  My plan is to hold back those sweaters that will work for me, and give her the rest, so they will have a new life as snakes or elephants or octopus legs.  Additional vintage clothing will also be passed on, probably by being put into the online estate sale.    

Many of the belongings I treasure most are gifts from nature, including rocks, roots, branches, leaves, shells, fossils, pottery shards and even onion skins.  Their beauty and stories inspire me as a person and an artist.  As I sort my treasures, I accept that a number will return to nature, and more will come to me to enrich my spirit and creativity.  It is clear to me that this process feels organic and right as part of the transition into tiny living; if I startle my soul by over-dramatic change, I may fit awkwardly in my modified EPU.  "One Day at a Time" and "Proceed as the Way Opens" are mottos close to my heart these days.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Prepping Interior for Spar Varnish

The whole interior needed to be as finished as we could make it, in order to get as much varnished as possible all at once.  Kyle did a lot of sanding of both loft floors, and installed trim on 6 windows.   I puttied and sanded the nail holes in the window trim and the wainscoting. I did a lot of work on the floor too, knowing that anything that was there was going to be there for the duration.  Such as dings, scratches, off-color spots, etc.  

This is a very good view of the sleeping loft, showing the slots where the lexan strips will go.  The photo was taken from the storage loft; the lightbulb that may be seen is in the fixture in the center of the cathedral ceiling portion of the house.


Floor boards for the storage loft were recycled from pine shelves I inherited from the apartment dweller upstairs, and then disassembled and saved.

Preparing the wainscoting for varnish included installing the 12V outlet covers, custom-made by Kyle, P and M, who was helping with their production. 

A sunny afternoon makes the tiny house interior glow, and my friend/host C was drawn in to absorb the sunshine. Everything was pretty ship-shape at this point, swept carefully and wiped down, so dust would not get trapped in the varnish.


A final view of the floor before it was to be coated with two layers of spar varnish.  It was very satisfying to create the "boards" and vary their tone and grain, and I spent quite a few days getting it to this point.  


It looks sunny in the photographs, but the weather was not being much more cooperative than it had been all winter.  Even though we had the heater inside keeping the space at 55 degrees or higher for the proper curing of varnish, K the painter was concerned about the need to open the windows a fraction overnight (so the sashes could be properly coated and cured). The weather prediction was for below zero, and he was not sure what a temperature that low might do to the wet varnish!  So he had us put plastic over the windows that would have to be left open, at least to prevent a breeze from sweeping in, however frigid the air on the other side of that plastic would be.

Here K prepares his bucket for varnishing window trim and wainscoting. Once that was coated, he would remove the drop cloth and roller the floor with satin-finish varnish.


This view shows the first coat of varnish going on my floor, shining wetly (and smelling strongly!).  Later I eventually realized that, in another geographical misconception, what I (who come from the New England boating region) had assumed was true varnish, turned out to have been "sparurethane" and not varnish at all.  The fumes have largely dissipated after two and a half months....  Anyway, it looks beautiful, and is incredibly tough.  It is slippery under stockinged feet, but that is actually nice for sitting on the floor, and great for scooting around the loft.  

In an attempt to tone down a little of the yellow "Jersey Cream" paint color, I had the ceiling painted with a lighter tone on the same paint chip page ("Crisp Linen"), but it made little difference, except to (slightly) clash with the yellow.  I contemplate painting the ceiling with a plain ceiling white at some point, but not now.  It is time to start building in the windowseat!