Friday, November 12, 2010

Building the Magnificent Cat Dancing Creations Vendor Booth! Part 1

Okay, it's time I owned up to it. For just over a year we've been building our vendor booth out at the new Sherwood Forest Faire on 290 East between Elgin and Paige (Texas). We actually did enough for the opening last year that we were able to vend off of the porch. Now, we are well on our way to finishing construction before Faire opens again on Feb. 19, 2011. Since the basic structure hasn't fallen down yet, I suppose it is safe to blog about the process. Now I get to play catch-up and show you what we've been doing.

My partner, Cat Dancing, does Intarsia wood art, stained glass, and jewelry. She has always wanted a permanent vendor booth at a Renaissance Festival, and when we heard a new one was starting nearby, it seemed to be a golden opportunity. We went out to the site in midsummer of 2009 and picked our site. The new faire is located on a very lovely piece of property that is quite wooded with a mix of tall oaks, juniper, and other trees. The land has gentle slopes in all directions. One can almost look through the trees and imagine being in Sherwood Forest in England. Well, of course, that's the idea!

We chose a spot that was not far from the entrance, is partway up the hill, and is on the way to the children's area and restaurants. We chose a booth that was 20' x 30' and were given the booth number of 309. Well, okay, that number changed a couple of times, but it ended up as 309. We hurried home and began to design our building. We wanted something that looked period, of course, and we decided on a design with a high roof and a sleeping loft. The original design looked like this:

 Our original thoughts were to use timber framing and wattle and daub construction. The major vertical members in the plan would be natural cedar posts, the timber framing would be used with timbers exposed. A packed earth floor would also be used.

We got approval from the management for our design, and began to gather material. As much material as possible was to be recycled.

We found large cedar posts from a local supplier, Environmental Mills. The bulk of the rest of the new building materials were purchased from Goodson-Voigt Lumber Company in Giddings. A lot of material was obtained through friends, Craigslist, and Freecycle. On October  2, 2009 we began our work. The main crew consisted of William RainCrow Seward (myself), Silas Bryan, and Michael Bach-Lesak (Cat Dancing's son.)

The first thing to do was to lay out the building with string, and locate the posts. We got the posts and rented an auger to dig the holes. Naturally, we ended up drilling post holes during a couple of the wettest weekends we've ever had. Once the holes were drilled, the three of us set the very long posts with the help of rope, pulleys, and muscle.
 In this picture, I'm the mature gentleman in the white hat on the left. Michael is center, and Silas is on the right. It was quite wet, but the soil is pretty sandy. Nothing like the limestone I grew up around in Seward Junction!
 A couple of the posts are set here and being tamped in. Two additional tools are shown. A green digging bar on the left with a nice tamping head that was given to me, and a solid digging bar that was made from an axle of some sort by my blacksmith great-grandfather. The posts were set four feet deep and tamped in solid.
Most of the poles are in place here.

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