Acrylic Canvas

Yes, to most tent people, the idea of acrylic canvas, sounds strange and unnatural, on these beautiful, traditional nomadic structures. But, the truth is, of course, that to make cotton and polycotton able to withstand the elements in a European climate, various chemical products need to be applied. Don’t worry, all have passed safety tests. […]

Yes, to most tent people, the idea of acrylic canvas, sounds strange and unnatural, on these beautiful, traditional nomadic structures. But, the truth is, of course, that to make cotton and polycotton able to withstand the elements in a European climate, various chemical products need to be applied. Don’t worry, all have passed safety tests.

If you have lived in or worked with canvas, you are well aware of the black spot mould which appears and the inevitable deterioration of the fabric. We recommend, every year, to clean the canvas with a soft brush and mild detergent and then to reproof the canvas with a reproofing solution (we can supply a paint-on FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) solution). Acrylic canvas, however, doesn’t rot.

8 years ago we made this yurt cover for Tithe Farm B&B in Lincolnshire, England. They chose to have acrylic canvas, rather than the usual cotton canvas we were working with at that time, for longevity.

After standing outside for 8 years in Britain (to quote Biff Vernon, the yurt owner): “The fabric is still completely waterproof. The only problem we had was that where the six ropes that hold the top star down rub on the canvas at the roof/wall angle little holes have been worn. We stuck patches on with fabric glue to reinforce these and wrapped the ropes in a fabric sleeve to reduce the pressure. That might be less of a problem with curved roof poles but ours are straight so there’s quite a sharp angle”. (This issue can be prevented by threading a small piece of clear plastic hosepipe onto the star ropes, to sit on this shoulder of the roof rafter).

(Guess which is new and which is 8 years later).

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A more natural fabric like cotton or even polycotton would have well perished long ago in these conditions. The synthetic fabrics are woven and look very much the polycotton, only hang a bit more stiffly.

And here is the lovely little wedding pavilion at Cornish Tipi Holidays which we made 7 years ago, which we have heard, is still fine, only a bit ‘not perfect and wedding’.FullSizeRender-4

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These fabrics were PU coated, but we are now working with a FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed), fabric in which the proofing is in the fibres themselves, so is permanent, and can’t be removed.

Acrylic canvas is expensive, and not for everyone, but weighing up all the odds and external conditions, may be worth the investment, especially for a more upmarket look.

Group Work

Wow, long two weeks of events and having people in Central Italy, we started by building a masonry mass heater stove, a week of hard work with a master stove brick man called Martins Brikmans, between laying bricks in sand and call mortar we got to work on some inner realm, mainly dreams, it was […]

Wow, long two weeks of events and having people in Central Italy, we started by building a masonry mass heater stove, a week of hard work with a master stove brick man called Martins Brikmans, between laying bricks in sand and call mortar we got to work on some inner realm, mainly dreams, it was interesting to see how people move in connection to our energy and place, also learning to work within our own group much more, the stove took place bit by bit layer by layer, it is constructed of an inner shell of fire bricks, covered by normal clay bricks, the heat is diverted to a masonry bench, it than crosses the wall, and passes to another masonry bench, and only than it goes up the chimney.

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Masonry stove work

masonry stove

The bench at the other side of the wall

The high energy and work week meant there were moments it was hard to keep up with all that was happening, working with power off-grid, running the camp, building and keeping a level of energetic clarity through it all, we felt like we lost the space one night, than a quick turn around and we started our next event of yurt making, a small group this time and so it was easier to get going.

It took a few hiccups until we got the momentum going again, it was nice again to be making yurts and teaching to people that actually plan to live in one later on.

We had more time to practice holding the campsite for a group, and oiling the dynamics we have within ourselves, learning how our own group work tends to spill over into the event if we aren’t on top of it but seeing how its important to keep things in the open rather than create a false front.

drilling the yurt wheel

Drilling with the brace

Beduin bread

Making bedouin bread

Beduin bread

Beduin bread comes out of embers

burning the yurt wheel

Burning the yurt wheel

pizza

Pizza night

 

 

 

The Lesser Known Tools of Yurt Makers (or any woodworker for that matter).

Yurt Makers and their tools… Everyone knows of the saw and the drill, but, unless you are a wood-worker, you may not have you heard of a Billhook, an Adze or a Draw Knife? The Billhook is used by yurt makers to chop the small side branches off coppiced trees, and is also often used […]

Yurt Makers and their tools…

Everyone knows of the saw and the drill, but, unless you are a wood-worker, you may not have you heard of a Billhook, an Adze or a Draw Knife?

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The Billhook is used by yurt makers to chop the small side branches off coppiced trees, and is also often used to chop back shrubby undergrowth.

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I prefer a billhook to an axe for chopping small logs and kindling, maybe because the longer blade gives you more chance of striking the wood.

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When making a coppiced yurt, yurt makers need to peel all those poles and a Draw Knife is the best tool for the job: much easier than a simple knife. It’s a flat blade which is held between two handles and pulled towards you, also great for peeling tipi poles.

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Our favourite draw knife is a really small, light one which we found many years ago in a tool stall in a market in Mostar, Bosnia.

For my first yurt frame, we cut a big ash tree then shaped the wood for the door and the wheel with an adze.
An adze is an ancient tool, similar to an axe but with the blade perpendicular to the shaft, like a garden hoe. A foot adze is usually held with both hands and swung between the legs, as you stand astride the wood.

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Spirits Intent Yurt Covers

We have been sewing Yurt Covers in our way for many years and have never really written about how we do it and what makes us special. So here goes… The main thing that makes us different from other yurt makers is that we usually make our yurt covers without seeing the frame. “So how […]

Perfect yurt coverWe have been sewing Yurt Covers in our way for many years and have never really written about how we do it and what makes us special. So here goes…

The main thing that makes us different from other yurt makers is that we usually make our yurt covers without seeing the frame. “So how do we do this”?, you may ask. Well it is a fine art that we have refined and fine tuned over the years, and have now made (literally) hundreds of canvas and felt yurt covers in this way.

Yurt covers

It is an ancient recipe starting with a measurement sheet which we send to be completed by the yurt owner, with lots of clear instructions to ensure the process is idiot-proof (although there have been a few cases…). We then add lots of circle geometry, a bit of algebra, Pythagoras theorem and sometimes some trigonometry, before getting out our amazing Vietnamese scissors to start cutting the canvas, the webbing, the cord and all those little bits and pieces which make our yurt covers so delicious.

Making yurt covers on siteTop quality canvas is an important ingredient in the pot. We usually make our yurt covers from 12oz polycotton canvas which is flame, water and rot-proofed, and have worked with the UK’s canvas proofers to raise the ‘water head’ (level of water proofing).

And we make our yurt linings with a really snuggly wool felt.

We have two trusty sewing machines, both walking foots (feet?) which means that the heavy fabric is always held tight from slipping. One is a Durkopp-Adler, and the other a Seiko. The Durkopp is the Rolls Royce of sewing machines (which means a tiny screw can cost £75), and is fast, good for the long stretches. It can also sew through a surprising number of canvas layers. The Seiko is better for detailed work like windows and it is lighter to move around so is the one that usually goes out on missions.

Yurt cover sewing machine

Sewing yurt covers
Windows are nice in the yurt covers: as our late friend, Bill Coperthwaite used to say ‘there is something indescribable about the view through a round window’ and I would also recommend opening ones, which we used to do only rectangular, until we worked out that a round hole with a rectangular PVC opening bit was much easier and nicer etc

Window in yurt cover

Round yurt window
…and we like doing decorative details..it makes life interesting.

Coloured yurt coversWe decided a few years back that it was time to share our secrets with the world so we wrote ‘The Yurt Cover Sewing Course’ which reveals all tricks of our trade.

It is always a lovely moment when the cover is all packed in the bag, and ready to be picked up by our latest friendly courier. As we make our yurt covers at a distance, we don’t usually get to see them up, so it’s good when customers send us photos and feedback. We will always hear when something is wrong, but not always when things go right. It’s often a case of needing to hold the intent until we get the thumbs up.

Yurt cover bag
Now, once again the wild Easter sewing rush has begun, so we have sharpened the scissors and got our thimbles out to be ready for the storm….

Yurt Cover tools

Europe’s best mountains

I have been travelling for almost 20 years, mostly in Europe, but elsewhere too, I have a love for the mountains because people tend to be more open and hospitable, and much simpler, so I have traveled through quite a few ranges over the years. Driving through the Apennines was a real voyage of wonder […]

I have been travelling for almost 20 years, mostly in Europe, but elsewhere too, I have a love for the mountains because people tend to be more open and hospitable, and much simpler, so I have traveled through quite a few ranges over the years.

Driving through the Apennines was a real voyage of wonder for me, here was a long range of mountains going through my favourite country in Europe and they are….. amazing, and I never new about it, thinking them to be a little range of hills.
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We drove into the mountains just after Assisi, famous for St. Francis,
Instead of going up to chiusi della verna (where he got his stigmata wounds), like we did last time we came here.
We chose to continue down the road a little and enter into the mountain there.

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Reaching the mountain top I was amazed by some of the scenes, like the grand plane (piano grande) in the south of the monte sibilini national park. The scenery looked as if it could be in Mongolia, with horses roaming free and open grassy planes with Shepards walking their flocks, although the distinctive hill top village was looking like something out of the Middle Ages and very European.

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We left Umbria at Forca di presta, another amazing mountain overlooking the hills, covered with hardwoods.

We entered Abruzzo by Lago di campotosto, back in the UK this would be a tourist hot spot, here it is quiet and on it’s own, the snowy cap of the gran Sasso mountains can be seen and one starts to appreciate the diversity of Abruzzo, with it’s high mountains and national parks it is becoming one of my favourites, very slow and very spectacular.

All in all the mountains here are such a wealth, it’s Northern Europe nestled inside the meditarenian, so one can walk through beech forests one minute and be next to cane and fennel the other, from broad oaks to fig trees, it’s got it all, with wild goats, and deer, and even a few bears, and of course plenty of wild boar.

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