studio building : ten days in

It's really quite hard to believe we're only ten days into building.  (With wood, that is!)  It is amazing what can be accomplished when you combine time, drive, passion, skill, experience, determination - and the threat of impending winter!

This past week brought many productive days, during which we put the purlins onto the rafters, as well as framed for- and built- a cupola.  (The floor with ladder hole (below) is just a temporary platform from which we built the cupola, whose main purpose, besides adding a bit of visual interest to the building, is to flood the new showroom and the upstairs with natural light.)

The views from up there are AMAZING!  (And we thought our kiln chimney was tall.)  We sort of wish it could become a reading nook or some such thing, but hey, the aforementioned natural light wins out for now.  Plus, we can't wait to be throwing pottery at our wheels on the ground level, and look up through the opening in the floor straight up to the sky!

We were also pleased to begin some diagonal framing, an aspect which makes George's buildings very unique.  Instead of putting the studs at right angles, he cuts them at 45 degrees.  They remain 16" on center, which meets building code, but creates a rigid and economical structure, and eliminates the need for sheathing - saving money and lots of toxic glues.

We enjoyed learning more about the process of diagonal framing, and appreciated the many years of experience George brings to this approach.  (He has a good head for math, as you can imagine!)  It is a beautiful end result, one which uses far less lumber than a conventional structure, and will contribute to less overall setting of the cellulose insulation we plan to blow into the wall cavities.

Nathan and George also took some time to build a reverse gable on the north wall. (photo below)  There will be entry doors there, into the showroom, and we wanted to ensure the snow sheds well.  We also think it makes for an appealing entrance!

If all goes well, this next week will bring framing of the lower level (where our workshops will be), roofing (metal), cupola windows and siding, and perhaps wrap!  We are also looking forward to windows and doors and eventually - before Christmas?! - ship lap siding.  Wow!

It's funny how hard it is to reflect on this project in a bigger sense - we're so deep IN it now.  I'm sure reflection will come later . . . but there are plenty of moments when we come up for air, take it all in, and feel downright giddy at the prospect of working in this gorgeous space, on our land, towards our shared passion.  Having the chickens clucking and scratching about the yard is more than just scenic - it's a nice, grounding feeling - that we're headed in the right direction - towards our "pottery farm!"


P.S. We've decided last minute to have a Holiday Open Studio and Sale next weekend, December 15th, from 11 am 'till 4pm.  Hope you can join us!And yes, we'll be most certainly giving tours of the new studio!


Lately, we've been . . .

- pounding six inch spikes into the freshly cut hemlock (milled by our neighbor and carried home in our old manure spreader).  yup, we are busy building retaining walls to hold pounds and pounds of stone against the sides of our kiln.

- talking with another neighbor about using his mechanical bucket to deliver said stone . . . rather than a wheelbarrow, that is.

- realizing that this is the LAST big thing that needs to happen before we light our first fire in our kiln . . . to burn out the form inside . . . wow!

- cutting next year's heat from our winter timber harvest, and loving the contrast of freshly cut wood against the green, green grass (er, burdock) of spring.

- watching our peas, garlic, and spinach emerge from the soil and grow, thanks to much needed rain and a good mix of sun.

- marveling at the germination speed of the nasturtiums in our kitchen, and thinking they will like very much the black gold- composted goat and chicken manure- gift from our neighbors

- sitting on a sizable stash of pottery-in-waiting . . . our largely unfired, glazed, and slipped collection now occupies a large part of the dreaded awfully handy storage unit in our front yard, as well as a good portion of an upstairs bedroom, a few shelves at the studio, the back of one car . . . you get the idea.  (and yet we still have only a very vague inkling as to how full a kiln load we actually have. to say we have much to learn in the coming weeks would be a gross understatement)

- making a reasonably successful attempt (don't look TOO closely) at diagonal ship lap siding on our chicken coop (twelve chicks arrive in two days!!) and being grateful they will spend their first few weeks in a warm box in our mudroom so Becca can find time to finish building the doors, installing the windows, cutting saplings for roosts . . .

- laughing at the fact that we have a knack for acquiring animals at the same time as we have major life events (move out of NH studio, pick up a puppy the next day; approach very first wood-firing after two years of kiln building, get chickens.)

- loving that our small town has, among other things, a family-owned organic feed company from which to feed our chickens, a printing press for our business needs, and one of the oldest continuously operated businesses in Vermont- powered in large part by the water that flows over the nearby dam- for building supplies.  yes, that's right, we're talking about tiny, often overlooked Bethel!  (note: a little town-tour blog-post might be in order)

- looking forward to sharing the countdown to our first firing in the coming weeks . . .



farm weekend

When our neighbors asked me to care for their animals over Easter weekend, I jumped at the chance.  (Crazy as it might sound, we have future farming ambitions of our own . . .)  And since Nathan was 'working out'- as we sometimes refer to our off-farm jobs- it would give me a great excuse to stay at the homestead, hide my pottery business to-do list, and start a long-awaited farm project of my own.  At the neighbors barn, I bottle-fed three newborn kids at regular intervals, and fed and watered 12 angora goats, 1 draft horse, 30 chickens, two dogs, and four cats.  What fun.

Between feedings, I uncovered a stash of salvaged boards from the old collapsing dairy barn Nathan dismantled ten years ago, and began putting them to new use . . . as our chicken coop!  Everything about it was a joy, most of all knowing his work of saving these relics hadn't gone to waste, and using what we had on hand to build a structure that will bring new life and food to our home felt great.  Not to mention the fact that I get much satisfaction from swinging a hammer, and my four-legged sidekick loves having new things to climb on.  (I promise you I don't try to deliberately include Lego in every photo . . . he just likes to be quite close at all times, and as a result, simply ends up in nearly every shot.)

Oh, and just a quick editorial note . . . when my dad saw these photos, he said "so the coop is right behind the kiln shed?!"  Nope, that's just where I'm building it.  It's actually on skids so we'll be able to drag it around the fields for fresh pecking places for the hens!