A lot of building, learning and living happened in 2015. Sarah and I got engaged (woo-hoo!), we toyed with the idea of committing to a beautiful eighty-three acre property in southwestern Oregon (not this time!), I did some theatre, Sarah got a promotion, we both met some really wonderful people and friends, we helped others build their tiny house, and through it all our little abode has continued to grow. It feels more and more like home with every nail 😉
Oh, and one more thing, we have decided to move back to the Petaluma, California area, or the greater Bay Area in general – please do let us know if you know of a place for an off-grid, self-sufficient tiny house and two tiny-house-dwellers!
Our latest building accomplishments have been: insulating, which took longer than expected (we did loose-fill wool and some denim), installing the interior siding (excluding trim), and my dad came to help for a wonderful week of cedar-sanding and putting on the ceiling. Pictures…. everybody wants pictures. So, here are some that detail the progress.
Sarah stuffed some wool into the wheel wells proving once again that small hands are a real plus on a build!
One step at a time, nail-by-nail, lesson-by-lesson, I get schooled and learn new humility and respect for the people that do this for a living. Maybe, someday, these skills will translate into something that will benefit the world at large.
Have a happy and humble new year, one board at a time.
“Artists have the skills to make something out of nothing. Use that skill!”
Five years ago I took a workshop in Brooklyn about financial literacy for artists. It changed the way I think about money as an artist in an expensive city like NYC. The workshop, given by Art Home stated that banks and credit cards work for YOU…NOT the other way around. This was very formative for me and a provided a fresh take on the ‘starving artist’ paradigm and I have kept the notes I took from that day.
A year ago, a friend introduced Sarah and I to Esther Robinson, the presenter of those workshops and she’s still at it. Teamed up with Guy Buckles of ArtBuilding, (who is responsible for the designing and building of the Elizabeth Foundation– which is the largest subsidized workspace for artists in ny) they were looking to talk to artists who were building their own spaces, with a particular interest in tiny houses as artist-studio urban infill. One thing lead to another and Sarah and I ended up writing a white paper on tiny-spaces, which covered topics from design, technology and site specific implementation for NYC. Some of these chapters we’ve re-purposed here and here on SeedsWithWings .
After working full-time designing and building under the expert eye-of-Guy for the better part of a year, they did it! Last week my friend Young and I and went out to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens to see the new Tiny Art Studio (which in NYC might just be redundant).
Even though I neither built nor conceived it, I felt very proud when I saw this little beauty sitting on the lawn in front of the Queens Museum. These are “small mobile workspaces that let artists, social-service providers and micro-businesses work in new ways and in new places.” Art Built Mobile Studios has partnered with the Queens Museum, Corona Park and Patrick Rowe of Mobile Print Power to support the community around them. They are finding out what the park needs by asking passersby to draw their ideas into various large sketchbooks with questions on the covers like, “What is the most difficult thing to find in the park?” or “What is your favorite part of the park?” then implement them through the designing and making of signs for the public. The suggestions ranged from better signage to the bathrooms (we had a hard time finding them too), to putting the rainbow (which shows up every sunny day at the Unisphere from 4-6) on a daily events calendar.
This Saturday, July 11th from 1-5 pm, they will be unveiling the new concepts for signs for the park that have been created at the People’s Design Laboratory. Also, bring your own t-shirts, tote bags, and other things that you want to print on! Here’s a link to the event which will also feature music and performances by Aztec dance group Danza Azteca Chichimeka and Ecuadorian dance group Ñukanchik Llakta Wawa Kunas-Wawas Sumags
Here are some more pictures:
A little more background on the key players here. There are two non-profits at work. ArtHome.org (Esther Robinson) and ArtBuilding.org (Guy Buckles).
“ArtHome’s mission is to help artists build assets and equity through financial literacy, homeownership, self-sufficiency and the responsible use of credit.” They are “committed to building a vital new support system for artists: one that fosters both cultural vitality and economic stability.”
“ArtBuilding is a dynamic non-profit business that harnesses the power of built spaces to create economic security, professional stability and financial assets for artists and creative professionals.”
The mobile art studios are a combination of the two and a unique solution for the rising cost of living and working as an artist in NY (and beyond) and they are being used to support dialogue within communities. I think it’s a perfect use of the tiny house movement, embodying some key factors like community, responsiveness (mobility) and sustainability. These can be utilized as urban-infill mobile community centers that can go anywhere and provide services that are most needed to places that most need them. Like creating signs for a park, social service centers, arts-education and beyond.
Do you have any ideas for these? How can you see these working in the world?
I sold my drum set today. It now sits tuned and disassembled in the trunk of an Outback.
Selling this drum set was hard for me. Not because nobody wanted it, but because I didn’t want to let it go! Why IS that!? I haven’t played it professionally since 2005, and it’s been sitting un-tuned and un-played since then. I told myself it’s just an object when in reality it meant much more than that.
When I was 9, I started playing basic rock rhythms but as I matured I needed to figure out how to make new, complex sounds to reflect the world around me. Not only are drums interactive instruments in how you tune and play them, but as you explore different tuning, pitch diversity and sound quality, you begin to think in unexpected ways, too. The world around me became an interactive sound playground (to the chagrin of many) that could be adjusted and tailored to what I was trying to express.
This tailoring also relied on a mechanical exploration of objects. What does that log sound like if I hit it with my hiking stick and how can I cut/notch/sand it to make a different sound? How about an old oil drum or some PVC pipe?My drum teacher kept sticks in his car at all times, and revealed to me that his dashboard had excellent rebound and was a very lively (and quiet) surface to practice on.
This is the essence of improvisation. Looking at something which has a clear purpose, and changing the perception of it to suit a different purpose. Another example of this is my metal mixing bowl. At first glance it’s just that, but take a closer look and you can see tiny dents and a few holes drilled into it with a U-joint attached to use on my hi-hat stand.
What a sound! a sharp THWONG followed by a melodious ringing. It has so many musical applications that it became a mainstay of the kit.
This flexible perception of usefulness has carried over into many aspects of my life. It has built a comfort-zone in the tricky landscape of money, work and love. Knowing everything has other uses and isn’t always what I think has lead to a great deal of surprise, delight and oddly dented pots and pans. 😉 It has supported me in tailoring traditional uses of things like bicycles, Christmas trees and house-building to my own style in new contexts.
Reflecting on why they were so hard to part with, I came to understand the drums had been a medium with which to explore the world. A journey wrapped in dogwood and synthetic skins that expanded my perception of what’s possible! They taught me things that can only be taught quietly; secretly; in the moments just before you realize what you’ve stumbled upon. Making something out of nothing, then turning it into something else is just the tip of the iceberg. This kit lead me gently through my young life, and whispered tales of patience, persistence and humility; all of which I’m still growing into; but that is another story, and shall be told another time.