Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ian's yurt - chapter one

I've had a book on yurts for years and always loved the shape and graceful patterns of these circular tents from Asia. Finally I decided to make one - partly because we will make good use of the space but also just because it feels like a good idea. If you do a bit of research you will soon see how clever they are. The design has been going for thousands of years because it works. Yurt inhabitants survive in temperatures of -50 degrees and through violent storms inside a few layers of felt held up with some bits of wood, all tied together with rope. The whole thing is quick to take apart and to put up and it all fits onto the back of a yak or two.

In the photo above, a group of yurts sits alongside houses near Ulan Bator. (I found it on Google Earth - a great place to find pictures taken in out of the way places).

Yurts are mostly made one at a time so they express their makers' skills, tastes and traditions and show what materials they had at hand. They can be made from sawn hardwood timber or wiggley coppiced poles. Not yet having access to woodland, I got some nice ash from a sawmill near Midhurst just down the road from here. All the wood for my 12 foot diameter yurt fitted inside my corsa. Well, only just...

I have had to get a few tools together and make a workbench but have now finished both the folding side wall sections - with some welcome help from my chum Jeremy. Here he is tying the last of the 1,700 or so knots. The next bit is the steaming of the roof poles. I have bent wood for the sides of guitars but that is just 2.5 mm thick whereas the poles are 1" thick - ah well, should be interesting ... more soon ...

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