Tiny Houses

Tiny Chairs, Houses and a Mixer

Last Saturday I taught my first class at ADX! ADX is a space where designers and builders have access to wood and metal shops, design software programs and classes in related topics. Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) hosted a Tiny Chair Workshop co-led by Lina Menard and me. We discussed shop and tool safety, introduced tools and demonstrated how to use them, practiced measuring and cutting on scrap wood, and then dove into the chair. We had an already built chair as an example which was helpful for measurement references and for understanding how all of the pieces in the plans went together. Since we had a small class of four and two instructors, the instructor to student ratio was very low and we were readily able to answer questions. I enjoyed seeing everyone learning how to read plans and use new tools. We stopped for a lunch break and at the end of the day, everyone had successfully crafted a tiny chair! Everyone enjoyed the class and I will be solo teaching the next one on Sunday, February 9th. You can sign up here. I hope to see you!

On Sunday afternoon, Caravan Tiny House Hotel hosted an open house with hundreds of people in attendance. This was due in part to recent publicity and people interested in smaller, space efficient and affordable housing options. The sunny weather also helped draw a crowd. Luckily, I had a previous opportunity to explore three of the tiny houses with a friend in absence of a crowd. However, I had not seen the new Caboose so I joined the others in line eagerly awaiting entry. My favorite part was the loft which was very spacious and light-filled. I spent the remainder of the afternoon talking tiny houses with people and took a quick look around the other three houses as the last of the people trickled out.

This past Thursday, I attended another tiny house mixer at ADX where over 50 people attended and mingled. I gave a short shout out about myself and the next tiny chair workshop in addition to other updates from people in the tiny house world. I'm looking forward to the next one this month!

Wanderlust Part 3: New England

I arrived at Yestermorrow Design/Build School late one evening in mid-September. Upon entering the main campus building, I found a kind student who was willing to show me where I could set up my tent in the woods. After doing so in the dark, I slept well after a long day's drive. I awoke the next morning, left the shelter of my tent, walked to the edge of the forest line and then through the grass to my car, taking in my new surroundings. The Yestermorrow campus is located between the towns of Waitsfield and Warren, Vermont in the Mad River Valley. It's a spectacular place to be, especially in the fall. The leaves had already started to change when I arrived and I would witness fall in full bloom followed by its wane when I left a month later. This was my first time traveling in New England, and it will not be my last.

I had heard about Yestermorrow several years ago when I wanted to learn more about design/build. I kept looking at the class schedule for courses that interested me and with timing that worked for my schedule. Finally, I saw the Tiny House Design/Build Course which started about a month after I was laid off from my last job. To help pay for the cost of the class, I arrived early so I could participate in work-trade, which included staining, cleaning tools and digging a trench. Luckily, there was another student in my class doing work-trade as well so we were able to share the work load and get to know each other. Some other benefits of getting there early were exploring the area, campus, utilizing the library full of design and building books, talking to other students, listening to certificate presentations and enjoying a jam session.

Finally, the first day of class arrived. We shared dinner, introduced ourselves and did a quick design project with a partner. Over the next 12 days, we saw small houses in the area via field trips, framed and sheathed a tiny house on wheels, and worked on our own tiny house designs. The class was intensive so we were kept busy from 9:00am on the build site until around 2:00am in studio. We had a couple of free time slots which enabled us to do as we wanted. One day, I chose a 35 mile bike ride to Middlesex, Waterbury and back. I also took time to go on several hikes which were spectacular and a refreshing break from campus.

The last day was full of presentations and dinner before people took off. It was interesting to see the variety of designs our class came up with and the excitement to build. I lingered on campus for part of the weekend, taking advantage of the library and lounging in my hammock. Then I packed up, reluctant to leave. I met a new friend in Montpelier and then drove to her mom's home where I spent the night. I left the following day, driving through Vermont and into New Hampshire and the White Mountains. Camping after Columbus day weekend in colder climates proved to be difficult with many campgrounds closed, so I ended up sleeping in my car a few nights. I drove up to the top of Mt. Washington, then hiked down a couple of miles to two alpine lakes and then back up. After the Whites, I drove through Maine to Mt. Desert Island where I wandered around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I talked to a couple who recommended an inexpensive place to stay the night so I set up home base there for a couple of days.

Then I drove down to Portland where I met up with a friend who I knew from the other Portland. After work, we went out to eat sushi and wandered around the Old Port, grabbing a drink at a bar before heading back to his apartment. The following day, I drove to Portsmouth, NH and wandered around, marveling at the historic character of the buildings. Then I was off to Boston where a friend toured me around the city to the commons, public garden, Harvard square, etc. via the T. I met up with another new friend from my class and spent the night at her house. In the morning, we grabbed coffee and these amazing scones, and then walked around the neighborhood and lake. We said our farewells and I began my journey back west.