Another World and its houses

Apples of Aeden the epic now has an exciting offshoot: the study and replication of Aedenyan architecture! This model I’m working on (excuse the roughness but I had to share now) is the first attempt to materialise it here on Edartha… A traditional Aedenyan starfish-shaped cottage. More to come I hope! These will soon start appearing on Earth, the Lady willing. A good complement to the Hobbit style I think. An Elvish influence as well…

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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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‘Hobbit’ child and mother appear in window of playhut prototype

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I’ve been away from hobbithaven too long! Art and other diversions…(started a blog for my art if you’re wondering what could possibly be more important than doing hobbit havens! – www.altarsofart.com) But I’ve just done a door and window prototype in the recycled chipboard I’ve scavenged from a transport place in town – they need rebating and glazing and painting and fittings of course, but it is important to try full-sizes models. The hobbits, aka grandson Bruno and daughter Anna, visited for lunch yesterday and loved it.  (Door is only 800 mm – fine for Bruno, but in the real children’s cabin it will probably be 1200 mm (4 foot))  Ferrocement will follow, with all the curves and carved features of brick and stone.

Also planned for the inside is good wood – elbows of beautiful driftwood pohutukawaka or red birch or totara; shelves and furntiure of recycled native wood or old oak if we can get it… There won’t be a shred of chipboard in the hobbit havens, of course. I actually got a hangover from routing and sanding this stuff – there are traces amounts of solventy things in chipbard I gather – from the glue. I really am a canary in the coalmine nowadays. Raewyn thinks this is a good thing – I will HAVE to use natural wood!

Watch this space. It is high Srping now and time to start Bruno’s cabin in the ‘deep dark woods’ at the bottom of their garden. I will document progress and follow up with a ‘how-to’ ebook, assuming it goes to plan, or better!

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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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A Bilbo Bench in the sun

All hobbit dwellings must have ample outdoor seating to catch the sun while smoking a pipe (health warning for humans of course!) or enjoying second breakfasts, elevenses and so forth.

I finally got round to turning the earthy bank on the sunny side of my non-hobbit haven into a nice bench, complete with tree roots and an embedded stone from the ancient hill of Baldrock here in Kaiwaka – the previous owner of our house in Kaiwaka was the local quarryman and blasted half the back side of the landmark into nice light-coloured, hard road chips for the Newmarket overpass among other things, before he was stopped by conservationists or just plain concerned locals… It’s now a reserve I believe.

Anyway, here are some photos.  I can make such features around any hobbit haven of course, happily! It’s simple enough to do, just takes patience and a caring eye – look to real trees and you can’t go wrong… I do try to post details and hints for ferro construction in http://www.fantasticferrocement.com for those who want to go DIY. And there’s always the ebook Fantastic Ferrocement.

Still a bit of a building site as you see, and the staining with iron salts not complete yet. But the doglets don’t mind, and neither do I, when there’s sunshine and coffee and Vogel’s toast with honey..

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A Desk With a View is one of the good things in Life

Here is an advantage of the polystyrene slab construction of the cabin, though I won’t be using it normally. I dug out some foot-room under the window in the tiny space so I could sit at the beloved window and write… The desk is an oak board on a swiveling pedestal of steel I bought ages ago. It can swivel for the gentle art of writing in bed, too, which I am employing now!

The view, I realise is currently of a pile of old tyre strips for raised beds and the unfinished yard. But beyond are the trees and sky… The laptop I put Hobbithaven on to cover up the irritating upside-down Toshiba logo which always used to make me try to open the thing upside down. Grr.. so much for  putting marketing above the customer’s convenience (the lid, of course when open showed the logo right way up from the other side) Here at Hobbit Haven we put Hobbits first (and Elves and wizards, men of the West  and Dwarves of course!).

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