At the very beginning of our artistic self-employment, we did small local shows. John worked nights, so I did the shows with a friend... a fellow furniture maker and quite the character!
I shared his booth to keep costs to a minimum. Here he's pretending to 'sleep' on his shift. Even when the show was slow, he kept it fun! Thanks Glenn:)
These were my acrylic paintings at the time – some were inspired by the grain of the wood on our furniture. In the beginning, I was a watercolor and acrylic artist. Oils would come later...
At this time, we were renting a tiny cabin by a stream in the woods inside the Adirondack State Park. VERY tiny, but in a beautiful valley in the Adirondack Mountains with hiking and skiing just out our door.
With a furniture + painting business in the works, it was clear that our tiny cabin was just not big enough for it all anymore. It was time to start looking for our own place.
With the amount of money we scrounged together for a deposit, the real estate agent gave us 2 choices…
A converted school bus in the woods
OR a cabin with an outhouse...
retrofitted with a toilet directly beside the kitchen stove for “emergencies”.
We'll let you picture that one yourself :)
Desperation set in and prompted us to say “why not build our own house?”
HOW HARD COULD THAT BE?
Since John worked for the local newspaper, he could put ads in the paper for free. So we thought we'd run an ad "looking for barn to dismantle". Old barns in the New England area are absolutely gorgeous feats of craftsmanship - large hardwood beams, hand scribed timber frame construction - THAT would make a nice home for a couple artists!
Our ad got MANY responses. That was back before 'recycled wood' was in vogue. Most people who contacted us just wanted the barn off their property so they wouldn't have to pay taxes on the old structure. They would give it to us for free if we cleaned it all up.
So we had our pick of barns! We chose a barn that seemed like a good size to become a home and also had a slate roof which we could reuse...“If it’s free, it’s for me” was our motto.
Now, all we had to do was take it back apart piece by piece - slate by slate, beam by beam. Then move it to our property.
(Since currently we didn't own any property, we'd have to work on that too.)
The beginnings of dismantling the slate roof... That's John on the ladder on the roof.
Well, you can imagine where this goes from here…
Many people would say “Oh, John's a builder?" Oh no – neither of us had ever even built a dog house.
But HOW HARD COULD IT BE?
We were soon to find out.