Between portraits of Russian monarchs, a stroll through a Greek themed yard, and getting to feed some chickens, Oak Hill is definitely the most unique house tour the students have had the honor of partaking in. Before COVID, the owner had thrown a Russian monarch themed party and chose to keep some decorations. One room is filled with colorful furniture, beautiful glass vases, and extravagant curtains. In another room portraits of Russian monarchs hang by string like they would have been in the 1800s.
Outside, classical Greek-styled statues stand side by side with modern takes on the statues. Some pieces are left to be “dissolved” back into nature. After the tour, the students drew an elevation of the main house and of the cabin, which we believe turned out pretty great.
Shop class has been filled with exciting new ideas and crazy curves. Steam bending, while frustrating at times, has opened a whole new world of woodworking to the students. It will be exciting to see how our curvy wood works will turn out!
Ophelia’s Home Site
To finish truss prep-work, large bolts were put through the beam to fully brace it, and the columns were given another layer of bracing. All the prep work payed off because the trusses went up fairly easily. Steve Long came out to site with the Bobcat, the studio’s skid steer loader, to provide some much appreciated help. Steve long used the Bobcat to first lift a truss, guided by 3rd-year Ethan, above the walls. Then a team of 3rd years with Professors Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott directed the trusses into place and adjusted them until plumb. Temporary bracing was put on the trusses as everyone held them in place.
Once all the trusses were on the walls, and they were put in the correct spots, permanent bracing started going up. Next week, the rest of the permanent bracing will be placed by the roof and enclosure teams while the framing team starts work on the front porch! We are so excited to have the roof raised and to be finally building Ophelia’s front porch!
This week 3rd-year students started a new project in woodshop class which taught them the technique of steam bending. The project brief is quite open ended; make something “useful” using steam bending. The open nature of instructions will help students really use their creativity. After the great results from the cutting boards, it will be exciting to see what students come up with next!
In history this week, Dr. Hudgens had the students complete their final Design Problem for the semester. Third years have now completed 3 of these Design Problems and look forward to their final review on their last Monday at Rural Studio, November 23rd.
At Ophelia’s Home this week students continued to prepare for the incoming roof trusses. They put up a beam on the front porch of Ophelia’s home which the trusses connect to in order to create a covered outdoor space. Trusses will span from the back, western wall to the front, eastern wall and over the front porch, resting on the beam. The roofing team placed the brackets, called hurricane ties, on the top plates of each wall for the trusses to secure into. The Enclosures Team and the Framing Team worked together to level the columns on the porch. They also attached the beam on which the trusses will rest. A meeting with Professor Emily McGlohn’s father – a structural engineer – helped solidify the roof team’s trusse placement and bracing. Now that Ophelia’s Home is prepped for the trusses, it’s time to raise the roof!
This week in woodshop class, the 3rd-years were able to finish their first project; Cutting Boards! Even with a less than normal Rural STudio experience, the students utilized this project as an introduction to woodworking. They gained confidence in using woodworking tools. The next two projects will be at an accelerated pace, but now the 3rd-years now have the skills to woodwork with more independence. Here is a look at each 3rd-year’s individual cutting board!
In history, students were able to visit Thornhill, a 19th century home atop a hill with a spectacular view. What makes Thornhill unique from previous tours is the people that inhabit it. The older architectural styles of the house have been maintained by its owners while new additions have been made to complement the existing structures. All of the modern spaces are designed to respect the older ones. It was very interesting for the students to see a successful and modern addition to an older home.
As the semester continues, 3rd-years have split into three different groups: Framing, Enclosures, and Roof. The Framing team is constructing the final wall for the home and planning Ophelia’s porch construction. The Roof team is planning the truss installation process, the purchasing of materials, and what additional construction drawings are needed. The Enclosures team finished cutting and installing the sheathing on the walls and aided the Framing Team in the installation of the final wall.
Third years continued to work diligently in the shop this week as different cutting boards slowly started to come together. They were also able to visit a mid-1800’s house in Demopolis with Dr. Hudgens. At Horseshoe farms this week, 3rd-years were able to put up the frames for the other half of the courtyard after the 5th-years worked to install the footings.
Working in the Rural Studio Wood Shop on cutting boards
This week students worked to put the existing walls up at Ophelia’s Home. Rural Studio also had six helical anchors installed to further stabilize the foundation and 3rd-years were able to witness the process. While wall installation went slowly in order to assure everything remained plumb, students and Mrs. Ophelia were excited to see the home return prior condition. Everyone is looking forward to further progress on the home in the weeks to come!
As the extended neck down schedule begins to subside, 3rd-years are starting to look at a more consistent work schedule. In history, Dr. Hudgens took students to the Gaineswood House which started out as a log cabin and after undergoing several additions by General Whitfield slowly turned into a Jeffersonian Revival style house.
In Shop, students continued working on their cutting boards. Since access to the shop is being limited outside of class time, every minute counts!
With the daily sitework of neckdowns ending, the 3rd-years are transitioning into building Ophelia’s Home. They are preparing presentations about Ophelia’s Home, it’s currrent state, and how they plan to pick up where the 2020 Spring semester 3rd-years left off. They have been visiting Ophelia’s Home to map out their return to the site.