It's hard to believe how long it has been since writing the last Journal entry.
I've thought of my old friend Dave Moore a hundred times since that last entry.
My humble workshop/studio located at:
470 West Thompson RD
Thompson CT 06277
860 985 2998
will be part of an open studios tour on:
November 25, 26, and 27th, and
December 2, and 3rd.
This open studio event started out as community outreach and covers Artist's and Craftspersons' studios throughout Northeast CT. Eateries and local business help sponsor the event and certain venues are set up for gift sales.
I'll have my place, which is normally a disorganized death trap,
organized, swept, and with art and craft objects on display. I'll have carving and box making projects in progress as demonstrations. A list of artists and studios and a simplified map can be seen online at 'aosct.org'.
The shop has a story itself.
It was once a large two story cinderblock chicken coop, part of a six coop complex. My wife and I, along with friends, demolished it in the end of 1997 and rebuilt it, on part of the same foundation to avoid zoning issues, as a workshop. It was decrepit, for every pound of wood in the ceiling there was half a pound of animal feces. Being located near the only road frontage I have meant this was the spot to build. Two years before demo day, several pine trees were cut and left to season up on blocks in the woods in 30 foot>ten Meter +/_< lengths. When the cambium layer weakened, the trees were de-barked. A few years later these same trees became a small timber frame erected in the center of the new building. The outer walls are laid up of the same old cinder blocks, carefully cleaned for re-use. Re-cycling of materials was a year long job. The next year the foundation was repaired, new bond beams were cast on the old footings which were rubble stone. In repairing the foundation, the old floor slab had to be undercut, so extensive shoring was made on two sides to preserve the slab and sand below. Old roof sheathing>1 x 8 pine< was sacrificed for that purpose with old rafters used as framing and bracing. Four square footings were dug and cast near the center of the new building for the timber frame. The footings for the old buildings support system didn't work with the new plan so were covered over. Once the foundation was repaired a sand bed was spread over the old slab and a new slab raised up six inches was cast.
The walls went up in 1999, and to save money we laid em up ourselves. Thanks and remembrance to R. Santierre, a retired block layer who explained the process and assured me I could do it myself as a 'one' man operation>many friends and family were involved<. If one has the skill and patience to set and lay to lines, and the strength to handle the tonnage required in small increments, then Masonry is an easy long lasting way to build.
The roof and windows went on in 2000. In those days I was in an artist co-op in NYC know as 'Subculture' and several artists from there drove up and helped roof it over. Dave Schwartz, Rich Rethorn, Rodney Githens, they camped out in the woods that night and cooked a feast over a roaring campfire. City boys in the woods!
It is a two story building and to make the roofing safe full scaffolding to the roof was made, once again using up the framing material from the old building. It may seem a crime to use up the old wood the way I did as it was lovely old wood, But the decision was made to use 'new' grade stamped wood for the new building to avoid building code issues. Using the old wood for utility saved thousands of dollars and was key in the decision to undertake this project. The price of it was the time it took to clean and stack it. When it was 'used up' it was burned or discarded in 20 yard dumpsters, several of which were required for this project. Some of the old wood eventually made it into the new shop in decorative uses.
In years after a wood stove was added, a few partitions were added. Now the lower level is an office area with stove, and a shop area. Upstairs is art on display as well as stacks of boards that need to be inside to keep at a low moisture level. Part of the upstairs is a work area where I used to paint.
The workshop is 17 now and no longer shiny and new.. like any 'barn like' building the mice rule. The outside is overgrown. Carving and wood working means there is always a layer of sawdust, when I'm not doing art and am involved in building as I've been for a while now it gets so full of tools and stuff you can't walk through the place. It is not a 'tight' building, there is no running water.. yet it was the first building I designed and made by hand and it is still serving it's purpose well. People who come in are struck by the unusual design of the roof and supporting timbers.
Enough about that, if anyone is 'in the area' on those days I'd welcome a visit. If anyone is curious about the tools and materials I use this is a good chance to see what I'm doing. I'll have simple refreshments and at least part of the place will be warm! Bathroom facilities are the woods out back but now that we have a house up the hill, bathroom facilities are available to visitors.