TED Talkin' and Commotion Minutes

Hello, true believers! Sorry we've been a little off the grid lately....things have been busy around the workshop over yonder.

As you might have noticed in the previous post, we've gotten a temporary certificate of occupancy for the Bone House, and it is being made all the more quirky and wonderful with the vibrant personalities now dwelling within. The water collection system is finally hooked up (so we can capitalize off that sweet Texas rain), the studio's bathroom/laundry room is a-go-go, and there are some more bells and whistles (and bottles) adorning the outdoor kitchen, a.k.a. the Chevron Station. From here, the place only needs the addition of a driveway, a BIG clean-up day, and a few more loose ends chased down and we'll be able to tally one more house under the FINITO column.

Another project that's we've been taking on simultaneously is the interior design for an education room in a new single-stream paper recycling facility being built by Waste Management in Houston. They want a place to take groups of kids and other tours to show them how recycling actually works, and they want us to give them a literal example of what one can do with recycled stuff....that, and just make the room look as cool as humanly possible.

So, we spent a lot of time making a pretty bodacious mural for this room, sizing up to 6'x30' on one wall and 6'x20' on another. Here are a few in-progress pics to give the audience an idea of what we're talking about. We'll try to get some comprehensive images up when we get 'em installed.

To match this, we've also been churning out a whole mess of chairs in which the curious minds of tomorrow can sit and ponder. These range from whimsical to eerie, from modernist to folk art. Here are a few of these thrifty thrones for your eyes to munch on.

For the sake of space, I'll only put up a handful on this blog, but you can check out all the one's we've produced thus far on our Flickr photostream, found here.

One last (and pretty righteous) thing to mention-- our one and only Dan Phillips gave a lecture a while back at TEDxHouston event. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a non-profit that brings some the most prolific minds alive in the world today (experts and innovators in the sciences, arts, education and more) to conventions to spread their insights and ideas to each other and the world, and they post the lectures online for anybody to view for free.

This is the speech that Dan made when he was featured at the event earlier in the year, and it was just posted online right at Thanksgiving. If you hurry and check soon, he's still on TED's home page! (www.ted.com)

So, we hope that's enough for ya'll to digest for now. We'll keep ya updated as more things come along our path. Until then, stay warm and keep creating!


you'll be thankful for the Tankless water heater

So this is a tankless water heater located downstairs left of the kitchen sink. (the white box) It is 'in the wall' and is usually covered by that little panel you see resting next to the box.    The bone house has it's own passive solar heater system set up on the roof.  A pipe runs along the roof and the water gets circulated from a non-heated storage tank in the upstairs bathroom. All of the water in the tank goes to the two heaters in the house for both up and downstairs hot water usage. The picture below shows you what the circulation pumps look like.

Obviously on cloudy days the tankless water heater works on its own.  It's a little confusing for me but I think I'm understanding it.  The typical water heater always heats up water whether you need it or not. It is a huge electricity pig.  With this tankless water heater, you are only heating up water when you need it.  It is much more efficient and when coupled with the solar pre-heating system you reduce your electricity consumption even more.

Dan said he got this tankless water heater new on ebay for $229.  According to the Titan Tankless Water Heater site, you will save 60% on your water heating bill!  Enviromentally friendly and cost efficient....go ahead, take that hot shower guilt free!  You can read more here, 'how to take a shower' by Dan Phillips.


Sunday catchup

Dan doesn't 'do cute'...but this little dude he made is wonderful, cute or not.  I think he's a perfect pet for the bone house.  Quiet and able to take care of himself.  No fuss.  No mess.

Bob, who is going to be renting the Bone House when its finished, got the upstairs bath sink installed and really cleaned the place up to finish the walls in there.  Way to go Bob!

You never know what cool adornment Dan is going to make.  Last week he finished the outdoor light fixture, a bone 'mask' if you will.  It's stunning.

Bones are starting to appear everywhere.  The outter decor is coming together ~ I never know what I'm going to find next when I show up.  The interior continues to move right along as well.  Josh is actually taking a week's vacation which leaves myself, Tod, Linda, Dan, Bob and his son Clay to get those bathrooms done.  I can see the finish line with the mosaic mirrored bathroom that I'm working on.  Can't wait to be done with that!

Ave H. : the pouring of the foundation

Saturday we went to Ave. H and helped George mix and pour cement for his foundation.  We being Tod and I who hope to nab the property right next door and begin building our own home too!  We don't want to miss out on helping, watching, and learning ~ so when George called me this morning saying today is the day we got over there asap. 

For many, building a house with your own two hands probably seems daunting.  I know I've always had a fantasy about building my own home but the actual building of it always intimidated me.  I think I like the idea of getting my hands dirty, being self sufficient and basically learning skills that really aren't that difficult [but daunting to someone who is right brained].  It is a challenge mentally and physically I am sure, I really have no idea.  That is why I am especially interested in being there as much as I can while George and Linda work on their home/art studio.

Tod and I were excited to get over there and see what this foundation business is all about.  It is surprisingly simple.  A few weeks ago George got all the property space figured out, various stakes and strings were posted on the property so when they lay the foundation they know where it's going and how to level it.  The inspector had to come out and make sure the ditches were deep enough etc. and once the water got turned on all that was needed was a big ole stack of 80 lb bags of cement and lots of muscle.

Dan popped by to get the water set up and to show us all the drill. [he is going to be their building mentor and Tod and I will have Josh be ours]  His truck trailer was stacked with bags of cement for us to unload.  We all got a lesson in cement mixing and basically were good to go.  As you can see in the photos, rebar is placed onto the cement.  Basically the corner ditches had four pieces of rebar (all attached by wire to make a square) and the smaller holes got two pieces of rebar.  We mixed one bag at a time, wheeled it over and dumped it in.  After two bags you lay the rebar, measure out from the top of the cement line to the string above, add 11" and cut a steel strip that attaches to the rebar then dump more cement on top of that.  The steel serves to better secure the foundation as Huntsville tends to get some intense weather when Hurricane Season hits. 

I had an appointment so after a few ditches were filled I was out of there.  Tod and George were whipping through those bags but they all needed to get used up so a few hours later it was my turn to help. Tod had already left when I got there and George was working away on his own.  I'm sure he would have been fine without me, but I'm glad I was able to help with the last six ditches.  It was very satisfying I gotta say.  I loved mixing the cement, there is a certain groove to it and when you get it right its like batter.  It's delicious.  Hard work yeah, but mighty satisfying.

By 6pm all of the ditches for the house were filled as well as 1/3 of the studio. It takes about three days for the cement to fully dry and then blocks of cement are placed onto that.  I will find out whats up with that and keep you posted.  In the meantime George is going to show Tod and I how he got his house blueprints made up so we can get ours done and march off to the bank to see where we stand with a loan.

* the name of the house is still being worked out ~ for now it's listed on flickr as the Butterfly Glass House on Ave. H.  Click here to see a slideshow of the progress.


labor of love and then some

Linda has made progress in a big way this week.  I think one of my favorite things about this bathroom shower is the cut out bottle parts she employs.  A rather difficult endeavor by the sound of it, the bottles can break easily when she cuts them.  The end result varies from delicate to chunky sized 'rings' that she then fills with a chunk of mosaic.  (post below) Long thin ceramic pieces lead up to these circles creating a stem or vine like image.  I still don't know how she is able to blend so many pieces into a cohesive piece of art!

I'm still working on the other downstairs bathroom that appears to have worn everyone out (don't forget the art studio walls are 2/3 mirror shards).  It is going to be 100% mirror shards from floor to ceiling. Tod has spent most of his work week cutting mirror and smoothing it so I can add it to the walls.  I am always reminded when I pop in to work a few hours here and there of how hard everyone on the crew has worked to make each and every piece of this house unique!


bathroom details

 Linda's Mosaic Design in the downstairs bedroom shower.
Below is the redwood ceiling that Josh made in the same room.

Upstairs shower: tile mosaic in progress

The bathrooms seem to be the focus right now.  Linda is diligently working away on the downstairs shower mosaic. It took me awhile to 'get' mosaic, and this shower wall is sealing the deal for me.  It is chunky and funky and full of variety.  It's fun to follow the 'trail' of vertical pieces and run into the big round broken glass; visually it is a great stopping point that really works! Josh made the ceiling from donated Redwood and worked that wood until it was smooth and beautiful.  By sealing it with polyurethane it is good to go!  Beautiful, rich and compliments the shower mosaic perfectly. 

The upstairs bathroom is still in progress as well.  As you can see in the last photo, tile is being used in the shower and it blends in with the tile floor quite nicely. Meanwhile,  Dan and Clay are doing the underpinning of the foundation right now, nasty hard work with lots of bug welts by the end of the day.  I'll spare pictures of that!