woodshop

And They’re Off!

Newbies in Newbern

The Spring 2024 3rd-year students found their way to Newbern, and for Rural Studio’s own 30th Anniversary year! These past few weeks have been filled with many firsts for this group. They learned quite a lot already about putting things together and have been thrown into Rural Studio history with the traditional first-week Project Tour!

During their first week in Hale County, the newbies discovered trivia at The Stable and weren’t doing too well, stuck in last place throughout the whole night with 53 points. Then came the final round, which was the special twist: answer the question right and you gain the points that your team wagered, but if you get it wrong you must subtract the points wagered. The group of five decided to wager it all to give themselves a fighting chance at surpassing the first-place holder who had 98 points—and it worked! The group won with 105 points! Unfortunately, the following trivia nights sadly do not share the same happy ending.

Winner, winner, pizza dinner!

Notorious Neckdown

During their second week in Hale County, the 3rd-year students had some good old-fashioned bonding time with the 5th-year students and faculty during “Neckdown” Week! Each day, the students battled the crazy weather and were split into groups to help out around Hale County.

The first group visited Perry Lakes Park with Emily McGlohn and Judith Seaman. They swept the walkways and replaced rotting boards on the boardwalk to the Birding Tower, Bathrooms, and Pavilion.

The second group was the Fabrication Pavilion with Andrew Freear, John Marusich, and Steve Long. The students helped take apart and assemble scaffolding that was then used to replace parts of the columns.

The third group had their first days on the farm, helping Eric Ball plant seeds, harvest carrots, and prepare microgreens to grow in the greenhouse. Group four was busy over at the Model Homes sprucing up for a Spring roster of exciting visitors. Students cleaned the homes, painted walls, and helped Mason Hinton and John Allen with general maintenance. Last but not least was the mobile task force later in the week with Emily and Judith. With a rotating team, they cleaned the Thesis Barn, Newbern Town Hall, and Brick Barn. They also scrubbed the fence to a shine along Highway 61 at Morrisette Campus.

“Neckdown” Week wasn’t for the weak, with such wacky weather almost every single day. From freezing weather to lots of rain, the new 3rd-year students got an unusual Neckdown forecast. At the end of the day, they had a great time getting accustomed to the new lifestyle in Newbern.

Rookies at Rosie’s

Working on Rosie’s home had been one of the most anticipated tasks for the 3rd-year students. With help from a few of last semester’s students, they quickly picked up where the Fall 2023 team left. Kati taught Julia how to trim the windows; Tanner, Sarah, Brysen, and Mac all worked on continuing the cypress wood paneling; Caitlin and Deane built louvers for the attic vents; and finally, Yesenia and Jack continued the electrical work. One big hit from the first week on Rosie’s site was the cats! The most famous is Crunch, who is extremely loving.

Over the next few weeks, the 3rd-year students all teamed together to finish putting up the cypress wood paneling that wraps the ceiling. This was a big step in the right direction when it came to finishing Rosie’s Home. The cypress wood ceiling perfectly reflects lighting down into the room creating a beautiful effect.

Once the ceiling was completed, it was time to trim and caulk the windows and louvers throughout the house. This step only took a few days, and soon after, the scaffolding was able to come out and the flooring began! The scaffolds leaving the house and completing flooring in the living and kitchen areas were such big accomplishments, we deserved a good rest on the floor. The flooring is called Marmoleum, a variety of linoleum which is manufactured with linseed oil that uses a click-lock backing system and is part of 3rd-year students’ ongoing study in healthier material alternatives. Along with its health advantages over vinyl, the whole class is loving how easy Marmoleum has been to install.

The class is super excited to keep checking tasks off of the list and pushing towards the finish line of Rosie’s Home.

Head-Turning History

Dick Hudgens is the professor for the history seminar here at Rural Studio. However, his classes are not like any regular history classes these students have had before. Hudgens takes the students on trips to visit historic homes around the Black Belt region and includes the use of natural watercolors in his sketching assignments. At the beginning of the semester, a watercolor-making class is held led by local textile and dye artist Aaron Sanders Head. During this class, the students are shown a few ways that watercolor pigments can be made using natural resources like local plant matter, kitchen scraps, and leftover building materials.

So far, we have visited four homes: Glencairn, Magnolia Grove, Bluff Hall, and Lyons Hall. We learned a lot from these four homes and are excited for the other trips as the semester progresses. If you’d like to see everyone’s work, all sketches and watercolors done throughout the semester can be found at Pig Roast coming up at the end of next month!

Locations of the homes visited so far:

1.          Glencairn, Greensboro, AL

2.          Magnolia Grove, Tuscaloosa, AL

3.          Bluff Hall, Demopolis, AL

4.          Lyons Hall, Demopolis, AL

Working Hard in Woodshop

The 3rd-year students have been spending a lot of time in the woodshop these past couple of weeks and have been keeping the woodshop instructor, Steve Long, on his toes. Each semester students are given two projects to work on within the shop. The first is a cutting board, which allows them to get familiar with the equipment in the shop. The second, and most important, project is to recreate an architect’s famous chair design from found documents. Most of these chairs are manufactured on a machine scale, so the project requires students to design the processes to build these seats by hand using the resources of the Newbern shop! Both finished products will be on display at Pig Roast, so be sure to come by at the end of the semester.

So far, we have made the cutting boards, performed research for our chosen chairs, and created storyboards for them. Most recently, we have started making mock-ups to prepare for the final chair build. We are excited to see how the chairs will turn out!

Here’s each group and their chosen chair!

Denae and Julia: Standard Chair No. 4 by Jean Prouve

Sarah and Yesenia: Stool No. 60 by Alvar Aalto

Brysen and Mac: Frei Edigio (Folding Chair) by Lina Bo Bardi

To end on a good note, get to know the new group! Here are some of their fun little theories…

What’s your fun little theory?

Denae Inniss is from the Bahamas. Theory: Animals that run out in front of your car are controlled by insurance companies.

Julia Van Pelt is from Columbus, Georgia. Theory: Farmersonly.com puts farms out of business.

Sarah May is from Huntsville, Alabama. Theory: Dogs have names for humans.

Yesenia Serrano is from Collinsville, Alabama. Theory: Whales have contact with life in the deep sea and life in space.

Brysen Calvin is from Chicago, Illinois. Theory: There is one cow on the moon; it never jumped.

Mac Harlow is from Atlanta, Georgia. Theory: The Denver airport.

Thanks for checking in, look out for big strides out at Rosie’s Home as we celebrate the home stretch of this 3rd-year project! See you soon.

A West Alabama Welcome

New kids in Hale (Get to know the 3rd-year class!)

The Fall 2023 3rd-year students have landed themselves in Hale! They’ve been through the classic “Neckdown” Week experience and are settling into the daily routine of life in Newbern with a busy schedule. Here to introduce themselves and their “hot takes,” please meet:

Elizabeth Helms is from Dothan, Alabama. Hot take: Milk is better with ice in it.

Hannah Wieland is from Fairhope, Alabama. Hot take: Environmental mistreatment is not a consumer problem.

Tanner Wallace is from Birmingham, Alabama. Hot take: Auburn will beat Bama this year.

Caitlin Ranheim is from Brooklyn, New York. Hot take: Taylor Swift made Kanye famous.

Casey Dillard is from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Hot take: Crocs are a must-have shoe.

Jack Felder is from Savannah, Georgia. Hot take: Morgan Wallen stinks.

McAllister Tucker is from Fairfax, Virginia. Hot take: The movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, is bad.

Kati Warner is from Huntsville, Alabama. Hot take: The live-action Cat in the Hat is the greatest movie in the world.

Bailey Kennedy is from Memphis, Tennessee. Hot take: Dasani tastes good. Spring water is the real criminal.

Kylie Kennedy is from Birmingham, Alabama. Hot take: Architecture is hard-core arts and crafts.

Luke Bradberry is from Suwanee, Georgia. Hot take: We aren’t actually in school right now.

Emma Johnson is from Birmingham, Alabama. Hot take: Pancakes are better with peanut butter on them.

Emma Avery is from Enterprise, Alabama. Hot take: Pineapple is the best pizza topping.

Shannon Brennan is from Newburyport, Massachusetts. Hot take: Cruise ships are a scam.

Cayden Davis is from Coleman, Alabama. Hot take: Auburn will go 10 and 2.

Model Homes or Pod Life?

The living spaces for the 3rd-year class are split up this year! While you may be familiar with Rural Studio’s typical “pod life,” only some of us are living there. The rest of the crew is down the road testing out the Model Homes. Not only did we get to take the annual 20K House tour and make trading cards for each home, but some of us get to live in Joanne’s, Mac’s, and Dave’s Model Homes. When asked how she liked living in Mac’s Model Home, 3rd-year McAllister Tucker answered that she enjoyed, “getting to share a bathroom with only two people and having an in-house kitchen.” She also said an upside is, “having donkeys as neighbors, but the downside is you can smell them.”

Bailey Kennedy, living in the Cardboard Pod at Morrisette House, said that she likes how the pods are on the main campus: “It’s an awesome spot for Enos [hammocks], and it feels like you are a part of the tradition of Rural Studio.” The Model Homes may have donkeys, but the Pod residents are visited every night by Booty, a wandering dog who was first seen scooting across the lawn nearby!

Outside of shared meals and class, Auburn football is what brings these two groups together. The Model Home kids came to the pods to watch the Auburn-California game on the projector one Saturday. No matter where they live, each 3rd-year student is enjoying their time among their friends at their home in Hale. 

Studio Kickoff

This semester, the 3rd-year class of Fall 2023 is charged with the task of completing Rosie’s Home. This has been an ongoing project since Fall semester 2021. We started with creating a digital 3D model of what has been built so far in Rhinoceros. Not only did we learn which details still needed designing, but we figured out stick-frame construction in the span of a week and got to know the ins and outs of this project. During pin-ups at the site, we were able to meet our clients, Rosie and Frankie. 

In this project, we are exploring possibilities with healthy building alternatives, specifically with insulation and interior finish materials. We started with a tour of all the 20K Homes Rural Studio has built in the last 18 years. To understand these precedents, we made a set of trading cards of all the houses. The cards included the materials used in wall construction, as well as what principles they embodied according to “The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building” by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

To begin the design process, we broke into teams based on our own particular interests for the semester. The selections are as follows:

Millwork and Framing Team: Shannon Brennan, Elizabeth Helms, Caitlin Renheim

Enclosures Team: Bailey Kennedy, McAllister Tucker, Kati Warner, and Hannah Wieland

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Team: Luke Bradberry, Cayden Davis, Casey Dillard, and Jack Felder

Interiors Team: Emma Avery, Emma Johnson, Kylie Kendall, and Tanner Wallace

Then, we split up and discussed the design focuses and procedures we would have to work through as a group of fifteen and in site teams. After, we were assigned to do interior perspectives of the living space so we could all decide together the big picture questions of designing the inside of the house. Once we make these decisions as a class, we can begin the last phase of construction—the interior space!

Woodshop, What’s Up?

In the Woodshop this semester, the 3rd-years are going to build chairs! We are split up into five groups of three. Each group is going to tackle a different chair designed by a famous architect and complete it by the end of the semester. The instructor for Woodshop class is Steve Long, and he has started by giving interactive tutorials on processing wood and using the equipment.

Before starting their chairs, the groups have been making detailed drawings and storyboards of the production process. To make us more familiar with woodworking, our first mini-project is designing and making a cutting board.

History Seminar

Dick Hudgens’ first class in Seminar of Aspects of Design was a dye workshop with Aaron Sanders Head. He taught the class how to make dyes naturally from plants so we could make our own watercolor palettes. Our first field trip in the class was a visit to Glencairn! Glencairn is a house built in the 1830s that has been preserved for visitors. The class toured the house and drew the ground floor plan along with a front elevation.

Life in Hale…

At Rural Studio, we like to stay busy—whether we’re building houses, making watercolors from plants, or constructing chairs from scratch. We carry our creative enthusiasm into after-hours. In our downtime, we love to venture around Hale County. We make our way to Greensboro every Thursday night for trivia or bingo at The Stable, or some nights we head to Nick’s Crispy Chicken on Highway 14, where you can find the best catfish po’ boy this side of the Mississippi River. Another great spot is the Newbern Mercantile, known to us regulars as “The Merc,” right in the heart of Newbern. On the weekends, we love to seek out antique shops and visit local markets.

We’ve probably spent more time outside in the last few weeks, than all the years of childhood recess added up. Just the other morning, some students visited a previous 5th-year project, the Birding Tower in Perry Lakes Park. Here they climbed five flights of stairs just to watch the sunrise. We heard it was well worth it. The country has its perks, even if it’s just driving around to watch the sunset over the catfish ponds. 

Check back soon to see us hit the ground running on-site at Rosie’s Home! The final construction push has begun, and we can’t wait to show you what’s happening!

The First Month: 3rd-Year Edition

Rural Studio welcomed eleven new 3rd-year students to campus this Fall. Before we could begin this semester’s work on Rosie’s Home, we partook in Rural Studio’s bi-annual Neckdown Week.

Among several projects around the area, we helped lay the foundation for the C.H.O.I.C.E. House project, provided maintenance on the Newbern Firehouse, helped with upkeep of our own campus and home, and power-washed and weeded the Safe House Black History Museum in Greensboro. Neckdown was the crash course in Rural Studio and Newbern.

Now that us 3rd-years have gotten thrown into the deep end of the goings on at Rural Studio, we can officially start our project: Rosie’s Home.

Welcome to Red Barn!

The 3rd-year class had a busy first few weeks in the Red Barn Studio. We started by getting to know our clients Rosie and Frankie. We created collages after meeting them to explore specific locations of the home.

While we were getting to know the clients, we had another project. We went to dollar stores and second-hand shops to pick up a variety of materials. Then we weaved, layered, and meshed the materials, and the result was funky–even for Rural Studio–and we’ve been known to do some weird stuff.

Pin-up of materials study in Red Barn

This project was a collaboration with the 4th-year Interior Architecture studio that is back on main campus in Auburn. In a Zoom meeting, we shared work from both studios including the materials, as well as our collages. Using all of the information and materials we previously organized, we teamed up (2-3 Rural Studio students and 2-3 main campus Interiors students) to explore how different materials might affect the atmosphere of Rosie’s Home.

Presenting to the Interiors Studio in Auburn from the Red Barn

Most recently, we began a study of all the previous 20K Homes. Looking at all the materials that make up the walls, we began to research their qualities, such as healthfulness, energy efficiency, and cost. We then presented our research and our work from previous weeks to visiting architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago.

Our reviewers offered a lot of great feedback on our presentation, graphics, and research and we are excited to continue to progress our design for the interior of Rosie’s Home!

Woodshop Class

Along with our studio course, we take a Woodshop course and a History Seminar here at Rural Studio. Our Woodshop class will focus on creating cabinetry for Rosie’s Home. The first assignment was to study cabinetry, focusing on function, space, and material of typical cabinetry, as well as cabinetry and storage in past Rural Studio projects. The course instructors Steve Long and Judith Seaman began an introduction to the workspace consisting of rules and regulations, and how to use the equipment and tools in the shop. They also gave us a presentation on the history of wood in the state of Alabama and in the local area of Hale County. Finally, we are excited to start our first woodworking project: a cutting board!

History Seminar

The History Seminar is on Monday afternoons with our instructor, Dick Hudgens. We travel around the local area and surrounding counties to study the vernacular architecture in West Alabama with an emphasis on wood constructed Antebellum homes. In the most recent class, we visited Glencairn in Greensboro. It was completed in 1837 and the original owner was John Erwin. During the tour, we learned about almost every detail of the home from the handcrafted cornices to the scrolls on the furniture. In order to study the intricate details of the home, we sketched the interior of the front door and surrounding trim work and the exterior elevation of the building. 

White Antebellum style home front elevation.
Glencairn Exterior

Stay tuned this semester!

The Stakes are High

Things have really gotten rolling with our 3rd-year class! Scroll down to see what we’ve been working on in woodshop, history, and Rosie’s Home.

Mocking It Up

Our main project in woodshop is to create a chair. However, before we could begin recreating our chair precedents, each team was tasked with crafting a mock-up that tested all of the most difficult aspects of their chair’s construction. We learned so much about joints, jigs, lamination, and even steam-bending!

Our testing phase is coming to a close, but we have learned from both our mistakes and successes and can apply that knowledge to our final chair.

Historical Visits and Tomfoolery

This month, we visited Gaineswood in Demopolis, AL, along with Magnolia Grove and The Oaks (Happel-Stickney Home) in Greensboro, AL. These houses were beautifully constructed and provided opportunities for fun photo ops between sketches.

1st-Year Frenzy

The 2021-2022 Foundation Unit students came to visit Rural Studio! We had a great time showing them around Newbern. On Saturday, we helped them build a variety of model stands for their latest project. The stands turned out wonderfully!

That’s the Plan!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve created many iterations of floor plans for Rosie’s Home, gradually improving the design. We also went on site to examine the post-frame construction and discuss the building’s corner details.

This week, we finalized our floor plan and slab details and decided on a new elevation scheme. We taped out our floorplan at full scale on the floor of our studio. Next, we staked out the footprint of the building and began setting up our batter boards!

After marking out the floor plan under the roof structure, we brought our clients Rosie and Frank out to show them our progress and present our projections for what the home will look like in the future. It was a great meeting, and we can’t wait to see what they think of the house when it is complete!

Check back in soon to see our progress on the foundation and framing plans!

Soup Roast!

As the semester came to a close, Laura and Peter worked hard to prepare for this year’s Soup Roast, which is Rural Studio’s final review event to conclude the fall semester. While Laura worked on the drawings, Peter created a ½-inch scale model of the post-frame roof design.

For their Soup Roast presentation, Laura and Peter presented at Rosie’s site with the model, construction documents, and actual dimensions marked out on site to show where the roof is going.

The team received feedback on the roof placement, dimensions, and how to move forward with the project from the visiting guest reviewers. Peter and Laura had the privilege of having Kim Clements, Joe Schneider, and Nicole Abercrombie of JAS Design Build and Jake LaBarre of BuildingWork, who all traveled from Seattle, WA. The Studio was also joined by several Auburn CADC faculty: David Hinson, Rusty Smith, Mackenzie Stagg, and Betsy Farrell Garcia. Their insight on Rosie’s Home was useful, and will impact how the 3rd-year studio continues in upcoming spring semester.

Electives Come to a Close

The wooden library carts and children’s table built in the Woodshop class project with Steve Long were completed, and the finished products look fantastic!

For the final History class with Dick Hudgens, the students visited the Thornhill Plantation home in Greene County, AL.

At Soup Roast, Peter and Laura showed off their sketches and the watercolors they completed in history class.

This semester’s electives have greatly helped the students look at details more carefully, whether in sketching, painting, or woodworking.

Passing the Torch

The 3rd-year team recently had some of the trees removed on site, clearing the way for earthwork, engineered soil, and post-frame roof to be put into place. For now, the roof structure is on track to be built in early January, right before the next group of 3rd-year students arrive for the spring semester. Their job will be to develop the floor plan and start building.

Thanks to the great leadership by Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott. Stay tuned until next semester!