September 7, 2016


Walt building the studio floor on skids

With long distance education becoming an ever more viable and economic option, with internet-based income opportunities growing and with vlogging quickly becoming the most effective way to reach out to young people, we decided to build a small "digital studio." Built on skids so it can be moved if desired, the digital studio is intended for those who want a quiet work station to do their homework, income work, or educational outreach for Windward. Since we designed it as a small and well insulated building, it also can be efficiently heated during the winter months (a must around here!).

Building the digital studio has truly been a team effort. It was Yosef's internet-based editing work and Claire's enrolment in UMass Amherst's University Without Walls that prompted the construction. Walt designed the studio and built the body of the building with help along the way from Stewards, Apprentices and Fellows.

Opalyn helping to build a wall

Walt, Lindsay and Opalyn raise one of the walls

Opalyn, Lindsay and Emily enjoy the new view

Whole Systems Fellow Zoe helping to cut insulation

This summer Opalyn and I completed the finish work, including using lumber cut by Andrew on the sawmill for the window trim and baseboards. We also cut and mounted the fireproof cement board siding. All it needs is a coat of exterior paint and it will be done!

Andrew cutting blued pine on the sawmill

Opalyn mounting the siding in place

Usually my time is focused on other community activities, so I have enjoyed learning from and with Opalyn about woodworking. It creates a special joy for me to be working with home grown wood. For, when it comes to learning new things, I am recognizing that I am largely motivated by relationships.

For example, I made the plunge to learn how to bark tan pig hides when Franky, our Papa boar, died unexpectedly and I felt compelled to work with his hide to honor his life and to carry a piece of him with me. Now I am regularly tanning the hides of our pigs. So much of my motivation to do the finish work in the studio stems from wanting to know how to continue the relationship with our trees and extend our shared life together. And I do have a desire for the trees to permeate and inspire all that thinking in front of computer screens!

The first step was to plane the boards (1" x 6"), and then cut to size (which can take a while with custom made material). For the window and door insets we kept the edges square, but for the trim we used a router to round the edges on both sides. With the floor baseboards, we just routed on the top side.

Then I stained the boards with 2 coats of Golden Oak 210B penetrating stain and applied 1 coat of Helmsman Spar Urethane clear semi-gloss finish. I think the wood turned out beautifully.

Stained blued pine used for window inset

We using only fell already dead trees and much of what kills trees around here are bark beetles. So we have the privilege of working with "blued pine" which like spalted maple is much appreciated by many woodworkers and wood lovers alike. The blue tint is created by the blue stain fungus, Grosmannia clavigera, that is found on the body of the bark beetles and stops the tree from extruding resin which would kill the beetles. Quite a collaboration indeed!

I'm looking forward to experimenting with other stains in the future to see how different stains interact with the natural blueing of the pine.

We routed the edges for the door and window trim

A finished window, complete with trim and a beautiful view

Emily working happily in the studio!

The digital studio in the morning light
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