20070831

Holy Scrap - episode #1 - Papercreters

I've started a audio podcast series called "Holy Scrap". The first interview is available. Jay Hawk of creator of the Yahoo papercreters group is interviewed. The episode is 30 minutes long and Jay explains what papercrete is, how to make it, some tips, and where to learn more.

20070830

Soy Milk

We have been making our own soy milk. It is a pretty easy process. Notice the 50lb bag of soy beans we had to order through our coop. This is the recipe that we have sort of made up as we go. 1/2 cup dry soy beans 1/4 cup of oats soak for 6 hours minimum strain rinse boil in pressure cooker (takes out strong bean taste) fill soy milk maker win "MIN" water amount wetbean operation (1 hour) fills 1/2 gallon jug strain for particles Add flavor: 1/4 tsp salt 3 tsp vanilla 4 tbl sp. agave nectar

Bamboo Shade

Wendy has been working on thatching bamboo into shade for our outdoor workspace. Two months ago we had gathered up the bamboo sticks from a dumpster. A neighbor had decided to landscape their yard and dumped all this great bamboo. She spent the morning using a compound miter chop saw to take the ends off the bamboo and cut them to 4'+ and 8'+ lengths.

20070829

Ouch!


Ouch!
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It is a rare occasion for the kitties to get their nails trimmed. They
need lots of affection to survive the ordeal.

NYT Story on Wendy


NYT Story on Wendy
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy made the New York Times today. The story was about her
Republican National Convention arrest in 2005. Here is a link to the
NYT story (subscription
required).

Mission Accomplished


Mission Accomplished
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The roof joint has been sealed between our single wide trailer and
living room. Notice our prickly pear paint we used to white wash the
roof weeks ago. The house has been feeling significantly cooler since
we painted the roof white.

Melting Tar

Melting Tar Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I know that playing with a blow torch on top of a 40 year old trailer on a Wednesday morning sounds like a good time. I assure you that it is not all that glamorous. I spent a good amount of time breathing toxic fumes and doing a good deal of sweating.

Torch Down


Torch Down
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our trailer is a hodgepodge of add on structures that were put in
place long before we moved here. When two roofs are joined together there will often be a leak. Today I am sealing up the leak with a propane torch and a form of tar/asphalt paper called "Torch Down".

20070827

Kitty Love


Kitty Love
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our kitties can never decide if they like each other.

Gate Curve Closeup


Gate Curve Closeup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It has been difficult to photograph this gate in armature form. Here
is a close up of one side.

Sunset


Sunset
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
More rain meansmore clouds. More clouds mean better sunsets.

Gate Progress


Gate Progress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I have been putting some long hours this week. Our front cargo gets need just two more days of lath and then I can spray it with a paper, lime, and cactus mix.

20070826

Band Geek


Band Geek
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy found this somewhat depressing photo on a bookshelf in our 40 year old trailer.

20070825

Fire Spinning


Fire Spinning
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have some friends in town this weekend that have never seen fire spinning before. Wendy took it upon herself to show them her poi and six years of experience. We had originally moved to New Mexico thinking we would be doing a lot of fire art out here. In particular the teaching of fire arts.

Craft and Gun Show


Craft and Gun Show
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I hear there are a lot of guns not so much craft. Great sign though.

Elephant Butte


Elephant Butte
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We drove out to Elephant Butte to enjoy the sunset. I picked up a six pack of blue paddle beer. It is not a particularly tasty beer, but it is employee owned, wind powered and made in nearby Colorado. We didn't have a bottle opener so I used the car door.

Hatch Chili


Hatch Chili
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our friends pulled up with 20 lbs of green Hatch chili's. The chili's are so hot we have been struggling to eat them. Mental note: When buying in chili's in hatch see if we can buy much smaller quanitites and get medium hot.

20070824

Gloves


Gloves
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
When you spend 50 hours a week doing physical labor gloves become a big deal. I've worked with people that refuse to wear gloves and watched them bleed all over my tools. These fabric/rubber gloves are my favorite. They cost only $3 per pair and last me almost two weeksvthrough heavy usage. I wash them every few days as well. The only time I take them off while working is for welding where I switch to heavier pair.

20070823

Prickly Pear Paint

We have a lot of prickly pear cactus in the southwest. Wendy and I harvested a few hundred paddles and made paint sixty gallons of paint. The equivalent amount of paint from a hardware store would have cost us over $1,000. We made our catus paint for only $20 and painted the roof of our trailer to better reflect light and seal it up from rain. It still leaks in one spot.

Ferrocment Tie Techniques

A video explaining how to tie lath and welded wire mesh to a rebar armature. This is the primary building technique we are using. The unusual part is we will in some cases pump papercrete into the armature for insulation. In most cases we will use a papercrete based stucco to seal up the outside.

Dryer's are slow


Dryer's are slow
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have a washer/dryer, but we have not actually used the dryer for almost 6 months now. When we switched over to drying our clothes on a line two amazing discoveries were made.
1. Our clothes take only 20 minutes to dry on the line as opposed to 1 hour in the dryer.
2. Our power bill dropped to less than 20 a month only 120KWhrs.

IRobot


IRobot
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy flipped out early this year when I threw down $800 for robots that will clean our house. She looked at me as if I had traded the family cow for a sack of magic beans. Well, after a two minute demo of their cleaning power I was told this was the best thing that I had ever brought into our home. We use two vacuums and a mopper robot every other day to clean our trailer. They do a excellent job on bamboo, tile, and short haired rugs.

Seitan Sausage


Seitan Sausage
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our local health food shop and co-op managed to misplace our monthly order.. I had to start working a hour late today so that I could make a emergency batch of seitan sausage. The recipe we use is from a cookbook put out by Millenium (a excellent San Francisco vegan restaurant). It is made primarily from vital wheat gluten and flavored with plenty of garlic and tamari. The seitan in the photo awaits two hours of low heat broiling before being ready to eat.

20070822

Rainbows


Rainbows
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
If I were into poetry this would be the entry to sneak some in. August is Monsoon season for the Southwest. Each afternoon a storm starts to pass over around 4pm. We received the smallest drizzle of rain today. Apparently more is on the way this week. Our driveway and 1/3rd of our papercrete fence is pictured here.

Little Ladder


Little Ladder
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
My friend Smoke introduced me to a little ladder two months ago and life has not been the same since. It is so clumbsy trying to hold tools over your head and do good work. The 2' tall ladder let's me easily work on projects up to 7' tall without having to pull out a giant ladder. I probably use this guy twice a day for quicky jobs.

20070821

Ferrocement Cargo Gate


Ferrocement Cargo Gate
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This 16' wide gate is presently receiving welded wire mesh and expanded metal lath. It will remain hollow and receive a papercrete stucco with prickly pear paint sometime late next week.

Tie Wire


Tie Wire
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I find tie wire to be the best fastener for a uber tight connection. Pictured here is a piece of 4" long tie wire wrapped around a 3/8" rebar armature and welded wire mesh. I use a pair of vice grips to make the tie a turniquite. I have learned that if hog ties are struggling to reach then it is a job for the tie wire.

Manual Hog Tie Tool


Manual hog tie tool
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The hog tie tool pictured here costs about $8. The large hog rings are about $0.02 each. I enjoy using this tool to connect welded wire mesh to 3/8" rebar. The brass rings are reasonably fast and the connection pretty strong. It does give me blisters and there is a limit to how far they can reach.

Plasma Cuts Best


Plasma Cuts Best
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I've been closing off our cargo gate this week. Today I put up some 6"x6" welded wire mesh over the rebar armature. When it comes to cutting this 10 gauge mesh my favorite tool for the job is my little plasma cutter.

20070820

Bison


Bison
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It almost feels like a cliche to be living in the Southwest and blogging about Bison burgers. We were fortunate to have a friend from Ted Turners ranch hook us up with 50 lbs of grass fed free range wild bison. Bison is low a low fat meat which is significantly better for you than cow. The tator tots on the other hand have no significant value.

Say Hello to Mr. Cutie Pants


Say Hello to Mr. Cutie Pants
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
What pneumatic hog tie setup would be complete without a baby air compressor? None. Enter MCP. If you have ever had to haul pneumatic tools around you would know that carrying oversized air compressors and dealing with hoses that are too long SUCKS. This little guy is on a cart can spit out the necessary 100psi / 3.3 CFM I need for the FC work.

Pneumatic Hog Tie Gun


Pneumatic Gog Tie Gun
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Meet the Stanley Spanex SC7E. This gun can carry 125 hog ties. It can tie 100 units per minute for clamping welded wire mesh, rebar, or lath. I hope this tool will speed up our ferrocement projects by 100%. It will at least help reduce blisters.

20070819

Shipping Container 2 Barrel Vault

The 20' shipping container that I like to use as a office has some very poorly placed papercrete blocks encasing it. It is time to make my office look a lot better so I've come up with this sketchup design of a ferrocement / papercrete barrel vault.

Curb Demo


Curb Demo
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The local building code states that we must have at least one parking space per guest room. We have left 6 parking spaces while erecting our fence. Now we are removing a annoying curb that is about 20' long. Today we managed to knock out the first 5' in about two hours.

Old iPod case modded for iPhone

I have been spending most of my days working in the yard. The iPhone makes it so much easier for me to document my work, keep up with email, and enjoy hours of audiobooks / podcasts. The problem for me has been a case for my phone. I had a store bought iPhone case that broke in one day. I stumbled across a old 40GB iPod case that just needed two quick stitches along the sides to snugly hold my iPhone.

20070818

Disaster shade


Disaster shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Not every project turns out well. The containers have been our experimenting ground. Our earlier Papercreter blocks and today shade iascos will need to be dealt with this month.

20070817

Tiller


Tiller
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy picked up a $200 electric tiller from Amazon and has been cleaning up the yard all day. She has also been collecting humanore from the water treatment center. This tiller is how we will be increasing the quality of our soil with composted human waste.

40 year old trailer renovation

CNET had contacted us about our 40 year old trailer renovation. I posted some pictures of the entire process. It was really just sheet rock, paint, tile, bamboo and plenty of home made trim. The renovation took 3 months, covered 1100 square feet and cost about $10,000 including labor. Renovation Photos

20070815

Red Crusher


Red Crusher
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy went to the local gravel yard and returned with 1 ton of red crusher clay. It took her two hours as the gravel people were very interested in our paercrete and ferrocement work. We are covering our guest driveway which had previously been weeds and peat gravel.

Women's Health - Uncommon Bonds

Wendy and I are in the September 2007 issue of Women's Health Magazine. The story is called "Uncommon Bonds" and it profiles four couples that work together.

Shade


Shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The shipping container on the left is my office and to the right is our tool shed. I welded together a lattice of rebar to hold bamboo and salt cedar that wendy has been thatching.

Papercrete Mixer Repairs


Papercrete mixer repairs
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We came back from our road trip and found a flat tire on our papercrete mixer. I had left it in the sun and the tire split itself. Wendy is replacing it with a $25 used tire we bought.

Big Gate Armature


Big Gate Armature
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy is "skinning" a rebar armature on our large cargo entrance gate. This curved wing is no more than 11' long and it has taken us 3 days to cover in lath by hand tying with spike wire.

LFC Class


LFC Class
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Laminated Ferrocement workshop in Montrose, CO August 2007. Don is constructing a triangular parking stop from 3 layers of lath using a cement/sand/acryl-60 mortar. I had been told that this was to be tested by resting a full size truck on top of the project a few weeks late after the mortar had cured.