Category Archives: cabins

Wood is good

What would Middle Earth look like without trees, or its houses without wood? So, I have been beachcombing and using a bandsaw

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to make planks and cut curved things, and soon the first proper Haven will be begun, and wood will figure largely inside it… I have tried out some wood shingles too on Bruno’s little playhut here at Appletree Haven…

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cut from totara driftwood. I love them though they use up a lot of wood! They are meant to overlap each other by two thirds – hard to do that!  I saved some of the best totara for a frame for a painting. Here’s a small frame I did – an ‘Altar of art’ frame as I call them. Linseed oil on poplar (I think) driftwood.

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So hobbit havens will be nice and woody… I was really inspired about wood craftsmanship and how much loved those who do it well can be when I found out about Sam Maloof.

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See this documentary about him and his work – it’s long but charming:

His signature rocking chairs sold for $40,000 US in his lifetime – now they’re more!

So there’s hope for me to get hobbithavens built and sold and then more can be made until there’s a trail of them for those who love Middle Earth and Hobbits – and wood!

Finally, a section of old (150-odd year rings) totara log turning into an outside table:

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And grandson Bruno walking the plank with crocodile Jemma below. Some kind of pine – the planks are drying now, a peaceful use to be found soon:)

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Here they are painting the big round door:

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Should a Hobbit have a Shower?

Or boycott the polythene pipes that feed it?

But first: Finally! I’ve almost finished the grand bathhouse annex to the tiny cabin in the woods… Mainly a tepid shower by candlelight but if the temperature on the roof gets high enough it can be a  warm bath as well.

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Highly insulated walls thanks to the dubious material polystyrene slabs (though recycled), so what it lacks in water temperature it makes up for in snugness of the ambiance. It was a rare pleasure to shower in it for the first time. I think Tolkien might have had an unfavourable opinion of showers; such an invention is not mentioned in the Lord of the Rings, at least – but baths of course are, and in a very positive light, notably in the delightful account of Frodo, Sam Pippin and Merry’s first (and last) night at Crickhollow.

For those with minds of plastic and pipes: the shower is fed by rainwater collected on a area of plastered ground plus two tarpaulins (o dear it looks scruffy!) high up on the Hill,

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feeding into a black polythene tank of 1000 litres just below, and thence down many metres of 25mm black polythene pipe (‘Alkathene’) then more of 15mm, to a ballcock on the roof of the cabin, and thence into the rooftop pond beneath a tent of black pipe framework and clear greenhouse film:

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and finally down a 15mm pipe to the showerhead, with a low-pressure rose (showerhead) made by punching lots of panel-pin holes in a circle of thin copper sheeting. Whew! At least there’s no motor involved – all it needs is gravity, which has never to our knowledge even broken down or run out of power…

I am typing this in bed in the cabin by solar powered light, on solar powered wifi, on my solar powered laptop. It’s not exactly Hobbiton, but Poppy the Head Doglet is curled up beside me, snoring, and Honey, no.2, at one foot, and Max the old tabby at the other, while the wind sighs in the manuka outside and the rain comes and goes. Homely Hobbithaven the First it is… But in the future I will eschew the greenhouse film and plastic tank. Alkathene, well that’s a hard one to do without. Clay piping would be lovely, though! and copper. And glass for the rooftop pond tent. (Or I think a separate little solar tank would be more normal – it is a bit odd having a pond on the roof! Pushing the boundaries – using the amazing strength and watertightness of (nautical) ferrocement…

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A Rose by another name

This is the cabin in the woods with the old Cafe Eutopia road sign, and the new bench and carved roots. Ferrocement is so great, permanence being one of its greatnesses as I get older and have seen hard work rot in the form of titree that seemed so solid and durable, and macrocarpa, and even treated pine (yuk). So think twice, then build once, for life and for the next generations too…

The stain I’ve used is just iron sulphate in water, which reacts with fresh cement and forms a rusty effect. It soaks in a little way – enough for pretty good wearing, and of course a recoat is easy and very cheap. The roots I have stained with acrylic green – not finished yet! Apologies for more on the cabin – I can’t wait to get down to Gisborne’s ‘deep dark woods’ where I am going to build the Hobbit Haven for little Bruno… Watch this space! Oh, and the dome in the last picture is an experiment with some alkathene pipe and greenhouse film – it was quick to make and will last a long time, but… I want to use glass and sand-cast ferrocement arches! Next time!

oh yes, the staff I’ve been carving is in the last photo. Note the classical labyrinth pattern on the concrete paver. I made a mould so these are quick to make – always good to have some stepping stones. Will make more. Can do on order if you want some, too.

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Hobbit Haven no.2 – 5 windows

This is a plan for a slightly bigger Hobbit Haven (4.4 by 3.2 metres, or approx 14 1/2 by 10 1/2 feet), with its width determined by the two windows and one door in the middle with sufficient space between them all. The depth (from front to rear wall) is determined by the height (1.8 metres or 5 foot 11 inches – for Big Folk this would be adjusted to 2.5 metres or 8 ft approx) and the arc from that – I like the idea of sticking to simple circles and part circles, which any sensible Hobbit would (I think) approve of.

Regarding the finials (the decorations above the door and the end walls): Hobbits are generally agreed to have a great fondness for flowers, and fruit, and therefore would I believe have in the classical period have carved finials in floral or fruit shapes. Likewise trees and tree forms of all kinds, including knotwork (now referred to as ‘Celtic’ knots).

hobbithaven 2 NEW PIC front 10 04 15 copy

hobbithaven no 2 NEW pic side view copy

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Bruno’s cabin design revisited

This is the latest plan of HobbitHaven no.1  for grandson Bruno in Gisborne – a chimney (all children like and EXPECT chimneys), and a rounded back which will be covered and blend the lines of the roof with the bank behind… The chimney can be a skylight, a lookout place, or even have a little potbelly stove under it.. Apologies for the fuzziness – my cellphone lens seems to be terminally fogged up – but very soon I will make a scale model and photograph it with the Big Camera.

One window faces down the path of the ‘Deep Dark Forest’, the other up it towards the back garden (and safety). The door (note the lattice windows) faces across the gully.

hobbithaven no 1 revised

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Gandalf aka wizard of Eutopia turns his hand to construction…

Greetings fellow Hobbit-lovers! This new blog is of a new dream from my heart, to your heart – and your garden or lifestyle haven – Halfling, Dwarvish and Elven architecture, inspired by Tolkien and the ‘tiny homes’ trend sweeping the Big People world of Big Homes.

Here is a selfie of me dreaming in style. The window sashes are sand-cast concrete – rot free and round, as windows should be.

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I am already ordered to make grandson Bruno a mini hobbit hole (above ground – or mostly!) in Gisborne as soon as I get down there. (We plan to spend this year in Gisborne to be near Anna as she has grandson number two!)

Meanwhile I’ve just made a little cabin in the woods for me, on our land on the Kaipara, as a retreat and storage place when we rent out the rest – housetruck and leanto etc. I found it healing and restful to labour hard to make this cabin. The only difference from a hobbit cabin is it is (unusually for me!) rectangular. This is cos I had some secondhand slabs of polystyrene to use up… here’s some photos of that, also ferro steps I made, a photo of Bruno on a nice concrete lion in invercargill, and finally on a shelf inside the cabin a model of the real hobbity cabins I plan to make… Oh and the second photo is of the rooftop paddling pool for sun-warmed showers…

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Here’s to fantasy made concrete and real on the good Middle Earth of New Zealand! Some of these may become part of the Hobbit Trail through New Zealand as cabins to stay in after visiting Hobbiton…. I hope so! Get in touch if you want one on your piece of Godzone/Middle Earth!

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