Masonry Heaters, Wood-Fired Ovens, Natural Building

Blacksmithed Shelf Brackets

shelf-brackets-web I am excited about these recent results from the metal shop.  I’d like to make more of these for this holiday season and have them both in stock and as something of value that I can take to fairs, exchanges, etc.  Shelf brackets are a great way to mount shelves and so many of the options available at the hardware store are not as solid as you would like them to be.

Written by in: Inventions,Portfolio,Recent |

Solar Ovens and the Infinite Possibilities for Possibilities

Solar ovens…. they sound pretty outlandish don’t they? They are one of those great things that you’ve got to experience to believe (like many great things in life!). On a relatively sunny day, without either wood or gas, it is possible to cook grains, beans, sweet treats and always have hot water on supply for cooking or cleaning. Being able to cook without having to use earthly resources, whether they come from the forest backlot or municipal networks, feels good… feels non-violent…. feels liberating…. feels hopeful. It is one way we can tangibly receive the celestial energy that the sun sends us on every revolutionary day of our lives (if the clouds are not winning the cosmic battle!)

The basic design for the ovens comes from a publication by Aprovecho, . The main design challenge that I dealt with on this series was making the assembly and dis-assembly of the large reflectors easy. In our daily use of the one we have in the Azul, we found it to be a tedious, but often necessary process when big winds come, to take the reflectors off and then put them back on again when wanting to use the oven again. I went with a compound system of hinges that allows the whole reflective surface to fold down and protect the glass surface when the oven is in storage. I would call this design change a good improvement and a good step towards making the oven a smooth-functioning and perhaps some day a more main stream part of life.

I am very enthusiastic to hear about other experiences in solar cooking and would be happy to publish them on this site. The following photos are different views of the ovens. In one you’ll see the probes that Alejandro, our good scientist friend, has installed to study the performance of the ovens. (The photos don’t show clearly that there is a door on the back wall for placing pots and pans).
Cooking with the sun… why not? Yet another of the apparently infinite possibilities in which we may interact with reality in this miraculous life we are given. Recently, I have received many reminders of how important it is to start every day with openness…. to recognize that our habits are helpful but can hold us back from new ways of being in this world. It is so important that we continue to experiment and feel the freshness which each new breath offers us!
Written by in: Inventions |

A vision flowering

This is a living sculpture Cristian and I designed at his house in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Words, images, and our laughter
like the flat surface of water
that is held up by the leagues of mystery below it.
In a hot firey birth
The One created the colors of the tropical reef
with all its intertwined sensuality.
And when s/he too was afraid and alone
the large ocean-going fish were born.

The willow tree makes windows between her branches
so that I may see
that what is outside
is also inside of me.

Esperan lluvia en el monte
todo callado
cada gota una bendición
un universo.

What is culture? It’s what makes us feel good.

It is the handshake, the bow, the kiss on the cheek that engages us with others.

It is the repeating pattern elaborated onto a cloth that weaves us into the warp of the universe.

It is the healer of many faces…. the one with a degree who sells pharmeceutical drugs and the salvage whose refined knowledge of the plants, rocks, and mountains and the music they make attempt to create harmony where the delicate equilibrium of life has temporarily been thrown off and that pain has been stored in some part of the body.

It is the mask that lets us see life and death behind the suede cloths of the theater stage.

It is a short solo, a rhythm that briefly emerges from the overwhelming symphony of divine creation – it is the clapping of rocks on the shore of the river, the beating of animal skin around a fire, and the flight of a violin like a kite in the wind of a moon-lit night.

And so it is our great challenge… to create the culture of new villages. Gatherings of people, families forming family. It is neither the city nor the solitary hut of the hermit. They are the new villages that are born on private land, far enough away from urban centers to pay the same taxes, have the same singular title deed that one family would. But as it is the evolution from within a system towards new ones, people begin to gather together there and live in a radically different way to its appearance on paper. These villages are close enough to the land to grow almost all their own food. This is the heart of the village’s connection to the land on which it has settled – too often overlooked by the pride of man to already build its buildings, the mere skeletons of the true vitality that is found in fields of grain waving in the wind to the sky and turning gold, distilling light, like the sun.

We work with rhythm, with a humble dedication that is not fueled by Starbucks nor any other stimulant.

As I write, I am healing myself. Learning. And now I must go until next time.

Written by in: Inventions |

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