studio building - little things and big things

We are in total studio building immersion these days.  Despite the tiniest indications of spring, the weather in Vermont has continued to be wintery and cold, adding to the sense that we are in some kind of crazy time-warp where we are always building and it is always winter.

We've gotten a lot done, though!

The last few weeks have been punctuated by some very big things (a concrete floor! the last door installed! wiring! stairs! a heat source!), and some little things.  First the little things: the gable ends got finished - photo above.  (No more staring at purlin overhangs and the underside of our metal roofing.)  We also made soffit/vent boards out of pine and bits of screen for the eaves, and installed them.  (OK, we haven't totally finished the south side . . . but progress, nonetheless.)

Nathan continued trimming the underside of our windows, and we worked inside to fill the smallest triangles with rigid foam so our cellulose installer will have less hassle.

Nathan has also been busy with the foam gun - using the expanding stuff to seal the edges of the triangles and rafter bays (in pink, below), while I trim it back where necessary.

We insulated the entire cupola with rigid foil-faced foam for the highest possible r-value - in a space where a lot of our heat is likely to rise.  (Until we get a ceiling fan, that is!)

We also roughed in the wiring in the parts of the studio that will soon be buried in cellulose insulation.  We're still running off extension cords for now, but soon we'll have outlets for pottery wheels and tools!  And overhead lights, entry fixtures, and switches in all the right places.  Even a motion sensor that will kick on for those dark evening trips to the studio to attend to drying pottery.

Here's the big picture on the first floor - which will be our primary "making" area.  It's about 800 square feet.  (And yes, still very much a "work zone!")

But enough about the small stuff.  (OK, maybe you can't call any of that "small" stuff - but you can argue that the next parts of the project are a lot more exciting. :)

We completed the pick-up and installation of a new-to-us wood stove!  (Made, incidentally, by Vermont Castings, whose plant is less than a mile from our house.  Yay local.)  It's so nice to have a source of heat in the building - although insulation will make it a lot more effective! ;) Nathan worked diligently at installing all the components of our metal asbestos chimney- which begins way down on the first floor and reaches through the peak of the roof and up past the cupola.  The wood stove will be our main source of heat until the radiant system is hooked up, which likely won't be until next heating season.

But it wouldn't really make sense to light up a fire without first closing in the building completely - during a mid-March snow storm no less.  (And to think last year it was 80-degrees at this time of year!)

After some additional framing was completed in the rough opening, the last of the siding was installed under the awning, and the door went in and got trimmed out in record time.  It's so nice to have the last (south) side of the building complete from the outside!

Next up on the list of big accomplishments: stairs!!  We can now walk between floors of our studio without traipsing through the snow, mud, or any combination of the two.

Oooh, boy, are we excited about these winding beauties!  (Thanks to Bob for all the tricky math. :)

There are still lots of little things to do - and at least one major thing before we can get to making pottery - insulation!  We are used to working in the cold at this point, but we'd rather our freshly-thrown pots didn't freeze overnight. ;)  (We've been through that before.)  Here's a preview of the next insulation stage, during which our entire upstairs will shine like a new rocket ship . . .

. . . to be followed closely by dense-pack cellulose in the walls and ceiling . . . and a big 'ole drywall job!

Counting the days until we get to make pottery!  (Will we remember how??)

Happy Spring,

~Becca

bitter cold and the thing we said we'd never do

This was supposed to be a post about how we'd finished the siding on our new studio.  Instead, it's a post about something altogether different, something we swore on multiple occasions that we would never do: we made a studio in our house.

{very chilly building & very frozen eyelashes}

A prolonged and bitter cold snap in our region prompted some rethinking of our path.  Our main goal of the winter has been - and still is - to get the new shell of a studio ready for pottery making.  Winter, however, has had other ideas.  With the out-of-doors practically inhospitable (we're talking days that don't reach above single digits with sub-zero wind chills and 50 mph gusts), we found ourselves INSIDE.

There is still plenty of what we call "G.C." (general contractor) work to do on our part, and we've certainly been at it - educating ourselves on our insulation options, getting bids on said insulation, discussing our plans for radiant floor heat with a plumber, researching said systems, procuring floor drains, and the rest of the pieces of our as-yet-to-be-poured concrete floor on the lower level - we've been staying focused on studio planning, if not physically building.

But with the days and weeks ticking by (how is it almost February?!), we were feeling a bit antsy about the time and number of pieces it takes to fill our wood kiln.  And thus the unthinkable happened: we moved our wheels out of storage and into an upstairs bedroom of our 160-year old farmhouse.

I'm sure there of those of you who are thinking, "Well, what were you waiting for?  You had unused space that could have possibly been construed as a studio?!" A fair question. (You might also wonder why we have an unused room in our house - short answer: the upstairs has been awaiting a much needed renovation.  And not just a lets-make-it-prettier reno; there are actual holes in the walls from a previous project, and asbestos-containing insulation in the eaves. Not to mention Nathan brushes the top of his head on the drop ceiling.  So, yeah, we haven't been living up there much.)

It would seem obvious, on some level, though, that after years of trucking our pottery home from our rented space, we wouldn't just do this in the first place.  Oh, but we had our reasons, and some of them are good.  The chief reason NOT to put a studio in our not-so-large house is DUST. Clay dust is insidious, and can cause serious health problems when inhaled.   If we're not neat about it, it gets on our shoes and clothes and up our forearms - and is then sprinkled imperceptibly but insidiously through our living space.

This time we promised ourselves we'll keep it neat.  Very neat.  As in, one pair of studio shoes that stays in the studio.  No clay on our clothes.  Plastic on the floor.  Wipe up clay while it's still wet.  So far so good.

Truth be known, it's pretty delightful to put a meal in the oven, a log in the wood stove, stream some podcast of some kind, and just mosey on up the stairs to work, with the puppy/dog to make trouble keep us company at the top of the stairs.

We're keeping things small (or so we tell ourselves) - there isn't much room to really produce plates or large bowls, (heck, there's not even room for us both to turn around carrying a board of pots) so we'll stick to small numbers of things that take time and attention.

For now, it's keeping us busy while the arctic wind blows, satisfying our need to make, and getting us just a little bit closer to our next wood firing.  We will, however, be back on that building just as soon as it warms a bit!

I continue to chuckle at how Making A Plan (I believe my exact words were "the next pottery we make will be in our new studio") is the very best way to get Something Else to happen. :)

{looking out from our temporary studio to our future studio . . . <3)

Stay Warm,

~Becca

 

 

building with wood

With our concrete foundation work behind us (yay!), the structure of our studio is coming together quickly.  Just seven days into building with wood, and we're pleased to say we've got rafters up!  The pace and intensity of the project has left us with little time for much beyond building, sleeping, laundry, cooking, eating . . . not much energy left for writing!  And thus, we share mostly photos here today, and the musings of our builder, Mr. George Abetti.

"We started this studio a couple of days before Thanksgiving after the intrepid couple did the entire foundation themselves assisted part time by some willing and available friends.  I must say I marvel at their courage--with me staying away from concrete with a passion only matched by love for building with wood....hmmmmm...probably an integral connection there somewhere. 

Both Becca and Nathan are experienced carpenters and indefatigable workers--which is what allowed us to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement where I would run them and as many willing friends as a crew for a few weeks to get the main shell up with roof, windows and doors and leave the siding to them.  We were doubly blessed at the serendipitous timing of two wonderful guys wanting to consider Geobarn careers calling to ask to work for free for a couple of weeks just to experience this kind of work....so yes....be our guests!  John and Charles--we humbly thank you.  (Yes, thanks, guys!  We are very grateful for your help.)

The building is quite creative--timbered with massive hemlock posts, our typical free span floor system--and incorporating both gallery and working spaces on both levels accessible from either below or above.  The views are magnificent and even though the weather has turned quite cold--their passion and energy (and high energy parents and home cooked meals) have all contributed to keeping us warm, well fed and filled with energy for the task at hand.  We finished the upper beam in spite of some tough site conditions and were overjoyed to have their wonderful excavators back fill the trenches and even hoist a few of the heaviest beams into place that we were otherwise struggling to carry up hill and wrestle into place onto the 7' kneewall....

Nathan and Becca cut all the rafters while I prepped the upper beam with her dad with layout, blocking, gussets and some diagonal framing to stabilize the upper level prior to the roof system....when it essentially becomes equivalent to a large sail ready to fly away in the high winds if not well anchored down--and this is a VERY windy hill as we discovered yesterday when our ladders not only blew over but flew out of the building.... the cold took its toll on us today--we have worked most days into the dark but today when the sun began to set we all looked at each other and agreed that going inside was the glorious thing to do. - George"

We returned to building Saturday morning . . . and in a snowstorm, we began to assemble and hoist rafters!  Despite the snow and cold, we had great success.

We are very happy potters!

Stay tuned - there is so much more to come . . . we can hardly stand it.

~Nathan and Becca

winter scenes

It is mid-winter on the farm, and I've managed to capture a few photos of the ever-elusive snow cover.  What a strange season it has been!  We have more ice than anything else, although a few warm days have allowed us to finish work on the ever-expanding kiln shed.  (It is wonderful!)  With the 'outside work' behind us for the next few weeks, we find ourselves mostly drawn to the studio these days, our pup slumbering by the wood stove while we work independently- and collaborate!- on new pieces for our new kiln.

(Got to get this camera of mine to the studio . . . soon!)

I hope this finds you warm and enjoying the beauty of the season.