Thursday, October 31, 2013

Felts Are Here!

After a small delay at the trucking company, the pallet of yurt cover parts finally arrived yesterday.

So, I haven't mentioned that I've never seen a traditional Mongolian yurt set up with its covers on. Most of my understanding has come from photos and my imagination. Well, I never imagined just how thick and heavy these felt covers would be.

The shipping manifest has them weighed in at 400 lbs.

Here's the outer cover and a roll of Tyvek. At this point, my heart lept. There was supposed to be a fitted Tyvek roof and a vinyl roof ring cover with a fiberglass panel for the stove pipe!

Oh, there they are!

After a bit of work, I got the wool pieces in the van. I think they weigh between 75 and 100 lbs each.

And then it was a little more work to get them into storage until next week when I set it all up.

Folks have been asking how I'm keeping the water from running straight into the yurt from the space around the wood stove. Here's how. There's a little mystery as to how I'll attach a flange from the stove pipe to the top of this cover, but I'll figure it out.

And now I'm off to sell my wares at the Portland Holiday Food And Gift Show. Next week I set up my new studio!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More Yurt Work

I feel bad for folks who follow my blog wanting to hear about weaving. I'm in a lengthy "production phase" right now wherein I weave many, many yards of cloth that I designed earlier in the year. There's not much to write about on that front.

On the new studio construction, however, there's a LOT to say. I'm still waiting for the covers to arrive. It's actually good that they're not here yet. The extra time is helping me to do the preparation slowly and thoroughly.

Last week I removed the weak old horse hair ties from the roof poles. This week I replaced them with cotton ties. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll remember that I made friendship bracelets for a special event a few years ago. (Kid's Day) I still have rolls of colorful cordage sitting around to serve as beautiful roof pole ties.

After that was done, I set my sights on the most complicated and critical part of the yurt setup: the stove pipe. As you can probably imagine, living in a canvas house with only one door, I take fire safety VERY seriously. Oh, yeah, and then there was that little 60,000 acre fire in my back yard this Summer to really drive the point home.

So here's the challenge: to take a handmade, round Mongolian roof and securely fit an American stove pipe to it, leaving at least two inches on all sides for safety.

The first thing to notice is that the window panes were not made for this yurt. Mongolian construction is very individual. Nothing is a standard, universal size. The yurt parts are all marked to indicate WHICH yurt they came from. So, I had to make a few modifications to get these panes to fit this crown.

But I did it. In the end, they all fit snugly in their places.

Then I went to town and trusted the stove pipe experts to design and sell me the piping system to go through the crown.

When I got home, the next task was to cut and install plywood "windows". This would give me a stable place to attach the mounting brackets for the stove pipe.

It's much easier to snip and modify cardboard than plywood. I went through about three versions of each pane before I got them fitted correctly.

It turns out that I only needed the two outer panes. I decided to leave out the center frame so that there is lots of extra air space around the insulated pipe. It'll make sure that there is absolutely no chance of having the wood heat up to the point of combustion. Code is two inches of space, I've given over three.

The trickiest part of the mounting was building custom wedges that slope in two directions for a stable, weight-bearing surface.

Once it was done, though, the installation of the pipe system was simple and straightforward.

There was one last thing that I needed to check before I could be sure that this whole thing would work... Can I fit out through the adjoining openings in the roof ring to install and maintain this system when the yurt is set up? Yes, I can.

Of course, there's one glaring task yet to do: prevent rain from entering the yurt through the crown. This task is waiting until the vinyl top arrives. It's tough to visualize what needs to happen when I've never seen the parts before.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Homestead Progress

The race is on! Our weather has begun to turn. We had enough rain to make it real in the minds of everyone around here, but now it's warm enough for us to do the Winter prep that we need to do.

Almost every night is clear and icy cold, resulting in real frost on the ground in the morning.

My new yurt covers are on the truck from Montréal, making their way here. This is the pallet that will arrive any day now. In the meantime, I'm still weatherproofing the yurt parts in between my weaving tasks.

Each roof pole needs separate attention. I am weatherproofing the ends. The top end that inserts into the roof ring is being treated with teak oil because a layer of paint might prevent them from inserting correctly and cause them to get stuck when it's time to remove them.

The bottom end was sawn off and left unpainted, which is a vector for moisture-based damage in my opinion.

The horse hair ties have weakened from their time in storage and need to be replaced. Until I can get ahold of enough horse hair to do it correctly, I'll be using my own handmade cotton cordage. It's a shame to lose this visceral connection to the horses that are so integral to Mongolian culture and identity, but it would be more of a shame to lose parts of the yurt because the roof collapsed as the result of weak roof ties.

Once the ties are removed, each pole is getting two layers of paint on the end.

Here are half of the poles, laid out for painting. I thought that they were particularly beautiful all together like this.

See the loom against the wall? That's the one that the apprentice in Portland had been weaving on. I'll soon have one of these 60" AVL looms for sale.

And then there's the door and roof ring. There are parts that will be ruthlessly exposed to the sun. I am coating all of those parts with a layer of oil-based, UV protective Varathane. It really gleams now and should retain its vibrance for many more years thanks to this coating.

"Better to arrive late and ready, than early and unprepared." -POB Bismark

I'm actually glad for the extra time before the covers arrive. It's encouraging me to do the weatherproofing that I might have skipped otherwise.

Some of the joints on the roof ring have shrunk since it was made. I'm filling those cracks with Bondo, sanding them down and painting them before the ring gets a layer of Varathane. This will prevent any moisture that gets on the ring from penetrating and eating away at the wood.

Soon, however, all of this preparation will pay off when I get to live in this gorgeous space with far fewer worries about damage to the wooden parts from this climate's moisture.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oregon Is Wet

Most of y'all who read my blog know this already - I live in the Pacific Northwest. It's very dry for some of the year and very wet for the rest of it. Mongolia, on the other hand, is apparently very dry all the time. A piece of untreated larch wood will last for a hundred years or more in that environment.

Resources are also quite scarce there. Things like paint are hard to come by. So even on a hand painted yurt, no surface is treated if it isn't going to be seen every day.

I knew that I would need to do some touch-up on the yurt so I took one of the parts into Home Depot and had them match the color and gloss in a high-quality exterior paint.

Here's the top of the door frame and door, before and after painting.

There are a lot of places where there is exposed wood that I don't want to paint. For those spots I'm using Teak Oil to seal and protect the wood from moisture without adding the thickness of a coat of paint.

I'm seeking the advice of people who've dealt with a Mongolian yurt in moist environments before I oil the wall lattice. It may not be necessary since it's in the interior where the woodstove will be keeping the air dry. I'm afraid that a hardening oil might make the camel hide joints brittle.

These joints are a minimal and elegant solution. I'd hate to do anything that weakens them since I don't have a source for camel hide to replace them. The walls are kind of critical to building a home.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Studio Yurt Is Happening!

This post is another quick one with lots of pictures to tell the story. I've just returned from an epic journey. I rotated and balanced my tires, got an oil change, and then drove for three solid days to the border of Mexico and back.

The theme color for this month is Gold and Saffron. Here's a snapshot from the day before I left.

And then, next thing I knew I was almost to San Diego.

By the time I arrived and spent a little time with a friend who lives down there, it was time for bed. It was strange to see city lights illuminating a skyline defined by palm trees.

I woke up and had a little time to take in the nature and see what the locals do on Saturday morning. Volleyball and surfing are high on the list.

I arrived at home of "The Yurt Dude" to find most of the parts out of the storage space already. Wow, it's beautiful!

We packed all of the parts in the van quickly but carefully. Anything that could shift has been strapped tight to the wall.

Two more days of driving and a few hours of unpacking found the yurt parts nestled in the current studio.

The Yurt Guy felt bad about taking so long to arrive at a delivery date after I paid him so he gave me quite a few "extras". This Mongolian daybed frame is one of those things. It's gorgeous! I need to create the mattress support system and acquire a mattress, but those are easy.

Here's a neat little detail about getting furniture that designed for a yurt. There was quite a lot of thought put into a mechanism by which the back of the daybed could follow the curve of the wall. It's done with hinges and brackets.

And then this morning I received the "good news" email from the company that's providing me with insulation and covers for this yurt. They will be able to get them to me sooner than we expected. I will certainly be set up in the new studio before December first. Yes!

This photo shows the three major projects in my life at the moment. In the front you can see my new booth. Behind that, there are two looms in action at the moment - one dressed in blue and one in red. Behind that is the yurt.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More Homestead Development

The homestead development is flying along. I've set a goal to have everything possible done by November first. The only things left in the studio after that will be necessary for weaving, and they'll stay there only until I get the cover for the large studio yurt. Then there will be a very busy few days as I erect the yurt, install the wood stove, move the looms, and clean out the empty room that I currently call my studio.

Yeah, these COULD be leveled up and steadied, but I don't have the time right now. This arrangement will do the job of keeping things off the ground and letting *some* air flow around them.

Here's the first cord of wood. Two more will fit in this shed and probably get me through most of the winter. I won't know until I start using it.

The decision to keep the 16' yurt as storage space for this first Winter has made another decision easier: where to set up the giant storage racks from the studio. The space beneath the deck isn't tall enough. Well, they fit nicely inside the yurt. Well, not really nicely. I think "barely" is the word I'm looking for.

One rack takes up about half of the central floor space. The second one will take up the other half, but because of the wall height and the roof slope, there is plenty of space to walk around them. (Yes, each of those shelves is a full sheet of plywood. It's a TON of storage space.)

Notice that the corners of the rack are about an inch from the ceiling with about two feet of space between them and the wall. Weird and, thankfully, functional.

Since this yurt won't be insulated or heated, everything stored in it will need to be sealed in plastic tubs. I think it'll be mostly yarn, which needs to be near the studio without filling up its working space.

And now it's time to weave until the next load of wood arrives. Life at the moment is really quite a balancing act.