In January 1975 Jack started building "The Tower". It's been a design-as-you-go, pay-as-you-go, have fun type of art piece, not a house. The guiding motto has been "Make it perpetually inspiring to live in". It contains 95 tons of Cherokee marble, has older sections in White Oak and Yellow Pine, has a Tree Room with the ceiling held up with tree trunks, and recently on the second story has a timberframe using 12,000 board feet of Eastern White Pine.
The earliest known photo of the tower, in 1979, shows when we finished the "stone circle" after two years, took a break, and then switched to wood. We built straight up in White Oak in a hexagonal shape, with plans to simple peak in the center. However after the walls were up, the design changed. A floor was added to the top of the hex walls, as you can see in the photo. Next the "crow's nest" was added.
First arches - Way back in the early 80's we added on the "Tower", which you can see in back of the stone wall. The add on was to bring the house up to the minimum square foot amount needed to legally occupy it. But later my woodworking took off, and all that space got filled up with equiipment, wood and furniture. Se a few years after this we added on again. :-)
Outside Corner - We got one corner looking good to make the neighbors happy. Soon afterwards we put in the moongate window and took down that blue plastic. The large ring is a bent lamination frame for the moongate window in the Marthalette Garden Shed.
In Winter '93 we built the "Marthalette Garden Shed" for Martha. (Jokingly named after the Juliette Balcony) To keep the mortar from freezing before it cured, we put up a plastic tent. It took Jack and Jay Wiggins (his woodworking apprentice) 4 months to buid the shed, which is only about 10 feet square. It has a Gothic arch and a Japances moongate. The outside is textured by jutting stones out. All in all, it was a labor of love for Martha.
Cutting stone - With hammer and chisel usually, sometimes with a saw.
Inside the tent - It was crowded, especially with all that scaffolding.
Laying up an arch - Stones for the top of the moongate ready for final run.
Getting close to the top - It really was that blue in the tent, due to the plastic!
Done at last - And we've started stick framing for the second story.
A view of our cozy little nook - Can't you just imagine Martha sitting there? :-)
Once the shed and twisted column were done, we could really get going with stick framing. Here's a laminated beam spanning 19 feet. Keefer Erickson, only 17 years old, did it himself, figuring out where to put the scaffolding, how to hoist it safely, and everything. Seems when he was young he used to visit his grandfather every summer at his grandfather's boatyard, who told him, "Give me tools and I can move anything", as he moved huge stuff in his boatyard. Impressive.
In 93 we started cutting the timber frame. First we had to unload 12,000 board feet of White Pine, so we made a day of it and had a bunch of friends over. Two years later most of them came back and helped with the barn raising. Wow!
Gunter Sprang did most of the actual timberframe cutting. He's from East Germany, with superlative training as a woodworker there. He didn't see eye to eye with the Communists, so they made things so hard for him and his family he fled to the US in 1988. Gunter now lives in Alpharetta. He's a super guy and does great custom art furniture and interior work, which is how he and Jack met.
Unloading the truck - This took a full day by itself. It was about 15,000 lbs.
Carrying a beam uphill - Wet wood is heavy, beams are bulky, we were tired.
Sawing wood for tent - The tent had to last 2 years. We cut the frame under it.
Bandsawing arch - Gunter and Jack make a monster arch cut. These were tough.
Hand planning arches - A curved bottom plane was used for smoothing up.
Stack of arches ready - These were the side arches. Note the tenons on the ends.
Cutting the first bent - The first bent apex joint took some doing to get right.
In November of 1995 we had 20 friends over for a weekend barn raising, to raise the timber frame that took 2 years to cut. After the raising it took 6 months to complete the timberframe joinery and decorative ceiling.
Before the raising - The deck is clear and ready. It's a beautiful day!
First bent Is Raised - We did final assembly on each bent as we raised them.
More bents to go - Note the split rings, grooves, bolts, washers, nuts...
Bents everywhere - Some are still down. some are up. We were busy!!!
Barn raising with Jack at top - Boy, was this an exciting time!!!
All bents up at last - We propped some up while we worked on others.
A view through the bents - Chester took this shot when the raising was over.
Jack flossing - A gag photo for my dentist, who has lots of such shots. :-)
Main Frame Done - Here's the entire frame assembled. It was beautiful!
Ceiling construction - A plastic tent over the frame allowed detail work.
Ceiling detail - A little later. The clearstory windows give great natural light.
A look upward - Another perspective. All that design and work was worth it!
The happy barn raisers - A few months later, on the day Martha retired!
The saw that won the West - The 16" diameter monster saw for cutting timbers. This was taken in the Tree Room, where the ceiling is held up with tree trunks.
Work in progress - The inside of the Great Hall of Tranquility as it looks on November 29, 2005. The widows are next, and we have lots of them!
Back to Jack's personal page.