Friday, December 12, 2014


I got these boots.  They may be my seven league boots.  Here I come!

These are steel toed, full grain leather, and made in the U.S. by Thorogood.  They even have a bit of style.  I am planning to get different laces.  I wore them out all day and they're quite comfortable.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

adobe hut

This picture was taken...a while ago.  We were hiking down from the top of the mountain above our house in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and came across this hut at the side of the road.

I don't remember the dog that got himself into this photograph, but I do remember being enchanted by this little house, built from whatever was at hand, including what are probably eucalyptus poles, as they grow a little further down the mountain.

At the top of the mountain, the grass is bristly yellow against a deep blue sky.  To me, these are the colors of the Andes.

Friday, December 05, 2014

december actions

So I'm applying for apprenticeships for next summer at Heartwood, EcoNest, and through the Timber Framer's Guild.  I'm very excited some days and scared other days but I am not letting myself give up, or change course.  Just keep moving ahead.

I ordered some good boots.

Miwa, a former apprentice from Heartwood, was very helpful in giving me advice about applying for apprenticeships.  She's building a tiny home!  Miwa works with Maria of Hammerstone School, near Ithaca.  Maria teaches Carpentry for Women, and I plan to go up to take a course.

I spent time with some timber framers at the New Jersey Barn Company, and asked them a ton of questions, and they showed me their tools and gave me tool shopping advice.

I signed up for a tool sharpening class in Philadelphia.

I'll be back in Virginia in April for the next Timber Framer's Guild workshop there.

And I'm doing exercises to strengthen my core.

I'm excited!

Now I have to go grade quizzes and tests and try to focus on that for a bit.  When I finish maybe I'll go down to the basement to keep working on my table again.

Thanks for reading!  I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

progress report: in motion!

i'm glancing around my living room at furniture i made before I knew much of anything about woodworking.  it's all beautiful and functional!  it's all made from scraps of wood i found here & there.

the table i'm making now has joinery inspired by timber framing.  just very simple mortises and tenons, plus maybe a couple of dovetails to support cross pieces that support the table top.

i've been paralyzed for months on this table because i spent about $100 on the wood and another $160 on a vise.  so this table has to be perfect!  or awesome, or a showcase of my skill, or something.  which doesn't help one to actually get moving on a project.

but anyway my new system is just to put in hours and see what happens.  by just putting myself in my space (in the basement), things are happening.  this afternoon, i plan to clock in and do at least 2 more hours.  i don't have the ideal tools, but i can make do with the ones i have.  so far:  2 tenons, 1 mortise complete.

i've started.  i'm not scared of making a mistake on my beautiful 4x4 cedar leg posts.  I just went for it.  and the joinery works.  i did a test fit and it works.  the pieces even meet at almost a 90 degree angle!

Monday, October 20, 2014


My goal is to consume less and create more.  Specifically, less "research" and "inspiration" time spent on tumblr, blogs, and pinterest.  More time working on actual projects I already have in the works.  Here is a drawing of a table/work bench I'm making right now.

(The quality of my photographs is a subject for another post.  As you may guess it hasn't been a priority, but I'd like to return to posting with really beautiful photographs.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Creating Beauty

"Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul."
--Alice Walker

That sentence captures what drives me when I make things.  Whether sewing clothes or building furniture, I am creating in a way that heals me.

One challenge that I face is that beauty is so easy to find online.  There are so many pictures.  I get a big hit of euphoria when I overload myself with beauty, as is easy to do.  You can see one of my picture collections here.

Beauty is also easy to find if you want to just shop for it.

But if you want to be a maker of beautiful things, you will have to adjust to a slower pace.   Rather than scrolling or clicking, you must go slowly and patiently, and wait days or weeks for your creation, which will not be perfect, to be completed.  It's a real thing though.  And it's all yours.

So I'm wondering if I should take a break from all the pretty pictures I love to look at online.  It's too much!  And it satisfies me before I even lift a finger to make the things i want to make.

Monday, October 13, 2014

timber framing

Last weekend I did three days of timber framing at a workshop in Virginia.  I took the workshop at Heartwood Building School in Massachusetts last summer.  This workshop helped to refresh my memory of all the terms (arris, slick) and techniques I learned there, plus more.  

I like the purity of timber framing.  Using only a chisel, mallet, and pegs, you can turn timbers into the framework of a home.  Of course, you can incorporate lots of power tools too, such as a chain mortiser, which cuts down on time a lot.  Or planers to smooth the timbers so they look less rough than the one in the picture above.

There were maybe 20 or 30 others working on the frame, a mix of experienced and recreational timber framers, and a few people who were completely new to it, but had carpentry experience.  There was plenty of guidance, and a laid back, friendly atmosphere.

This is what we built:

It's called a woodshed, but it could serve other purposes too.  It will be auctioned off to benefit a program that prevents violence in families.

On a project like this, you work on pieces, and at the end, we put all the pieces together.  My own contribution felt small but it's there.