There is something warm and peaceful about this book. It is a transporter, ready to take you back to Northern California or Oregon of the 1970s. It is folk art and naked children--a time before Martha Stewart. It is an architecture of freedom and spontaneity, earthiness, and autonomy. Here people have put together woody structures of the mind and captured in form the feeling that I remember so well from my Northern California childhood in the 70s. The book is just photos--no building instructions, no pretense to being authoritative or comprehensive; art homes which caught the authors' eyes.
I found this book several years ago at a library sale and all my friends enjoy the pictures of rustic cabins. It is certainly a picture book and not a how-to book but it has sparked many grand thoughts and converstations over the years. It's worth many a good slow look.
I bought this book about 9 years ago in a Wellington second hand bookshop and have been in love with the images contained within ever since. It provides an inspiration to me of the handmade house as a place of unlimited creative expression and a melding of the function and form of shelter into whatever it's creator is capable of imagining. Savour the images and let them seep into your subcouncious...who knows what journey they may set you upon.
Like one of the other reviewers, I too had the pleasure of living near and visiting several of the hand-made homes in this book.
I lived up in the Pygmy Forest above Mendocino off of Comptche Road and some of my neighbors' beautiful homes are pictured in this book. I lived there during 1970 and watched many of these fantastic homes (and outhouses) being crafted using bartered and recycled windows, lumber and plumbing.
One of the most beautiful houses was one with tall wood framed windows arranged in a wide half circle over-looking a dense fern covered hillside where wild purple irises would bloom. It was absolutely stunning to walk in through the hand-made front door into a warm and cozy kitchen and then walk to the left and out to the soaring living area. The kids had a loft that hung part way up the tall walls and the parents had the highest loft with a diamond cut out under their bed, so that they could just sweep the dust and dirt "through" the floor and then out the front door! Since they lacked electricity, it seemed like a workable way to keep their house clean.
Finding this book many, many years after I had moved away, was like stepping back in time...a real pleasure to read!
It was in the 1970's when I first encountered this book and the memory has stayed with me since then. Had actually forgotten the correct title in my quest to obtain a used copy of the book. Then someone on a Yahoo group I am on told me the correct title and I quickly found a used copy here on Amazon.com and I am so very, very happy.
The interesting thing about the book now thirty years old, is how it has such usable ideas for 2006 and beyond. Guess one could say it was a 'green' book before 'green' was the in thing. And the unique home made homes use recycled items from windows, doors, to bath tubs and sinks. And are all one of a kind.
I just reviewed some of my reviews, including this book (2 years ago) and realized that 2 things were amiss: originally, I didn't give this book the 5 star rating it deserves and I might have committed a 2nd faux pas' by hinting the general area where many of the photos were taken, thereby failing to heed a note from Barry Shapiro at the end of this book ("A Word"), which in part, relates that some of the people who owned the featured houses wish to remain "annonymous". My hint stated which 'haystack' that 'needle' is in, but nothing specific- my apologies, anyway! That said, I'll explain the 'deja vu' in my review title.
In the late summer of 1970, I was on a journey that passed through the region where many of the featured houses are located and was blessed with the aquaintance of many people who owned and/or built these homes. My intention was to travel to Washington State as quickly as possible, but I was so blown away by the beautifully hand crafted houses and the nice people who owned them, that I stayed in the area for a few months partaking of the generous hospitality they offered. I have helped build houses, designed and built furniture, but I was awed by the craftsmanship and love poured into these homes. The title of the book is "Handmade Houses" and let me emphasize that title by saying that many of these structures were put together with material hand hewn (no power tools) from the immediate area and in some cases, homes were built without one nail pounded- wood joints only.
Other featured houses were artfully assembled from materials salvaged from torn down buildings. I helped out in procuring some of the materials and was amazed by the careful procedures to safley dismantle the structures and process them for inclusion on "new" buildings.Read more ›
I really liked this book; it has lots of great photos. The cabins reviewed range from simple to outrageous. The book really inspires one to take up an axe, saw, hammer and nails do some creative "woodbutchering"! The book's only drawback is that there are no construction plans for any of the houses reviewed; it's simply an pictoral guide to the imaginative art of "vernacular architecture"--just as the title suggests. The book "Shelter" by Lloyd Kahn would be excellent alternative for those wanting more how-to info on building creative, handmade houses.