Its just blowing in the wind...

This summer as a couple of fun projects with my kids, we made a down and dirty camping fire and a sail tent, that we aimed to have made for a mountain biking festival in the New Forest at the end of August.

First we made the camping fire, a little barbecue that after burning the sausages on can be used as an open fire for toasting marshmellows and giving a little warmth to our inclement summer camping evenings, without leaving a burn hole in the grass.

Made from an old galvanised can with a conical top and brass screw closer, it dates back to my Grandfathers time when his building company had paraffin plumbers blow torches.  It had been kicking around for years and passed down to me.  As I have embraced reusing objects it seemed the best second life for the can.

Down and dirty, chopped the top cone off with an angle grinder, took out the screw closer and pop the cone upside down on the remaining can.  Threaded some re-bar through a square of thin metal grid for the food to sit on.  Built a fire and enjoyed. 

The sail tent was nearly as easy to make.  My father-in-law gave us an old blown out sail that we folded into a bivvy tent, a classic apex tent shape with the sail tucking around to form the ground sheet. Two re-bar fence stakes hammered into the ground make for easy poles and cut off stakes make solid pegs.  Some spliced braided yacht ropes [tutorials on YouTube] made wind proof guys.  A still in use roller paint extendable handle made a great central post and extended higher for when the side is open for day time shade.  Off cuts of the sail made end doors tied in place with tale-tails.

Did we get wet on the wet and windy bank holiday festival? Only a little and far less than some other 'proper' tents.  The great thing about it is the low expectations, its single skin and sailcloth saturates when wet and its a little airy.  It brings you closer to the great outdoors as bivving does whilst keeping the worst of the weather off, it far exceeded my expectations and there was no other tent like it at the festival.

There is a simplicity and robustness in the sail tent that I really like and it may evolve into another pricklysauce product, though if you have an old sail lying around and some old re-bar stakes in the garage then give it go.  Its definitely worth it.

The waste of packaging

As you may know the issue of packaging and how to reduce it is of a great interest to me, leading my direction to reuse of materials for the packaging of my own products.  I came across this great series of images by Johnson Banks titled 'How packaging works' on Designboom that graphicaly illustrates the overuse of packaging,

With the introduction in October in England of charging for carrier bags in shops, it maybe seems that the government is tackling the issue from the wrong end, penalising the users when surely it would be better to incentivise the producers to be more intelligent with their packaging.

Addition+ is up!

Sweltering in the Devon sun the Addition+ garden room has taken shape with the structure of the room going together in only a few days work.  The bare bones at the moment though it feels great with plenty of space and a lovely curving ceiling.  Prefabricating the structure made a breeze in erecting the room and gives an easy building to work with.  Timber buildings are definately the way forward.

Now for the windows and doors to go in, cladding to the outside, curved wiggly tin to the roof, birch ply interior and a deck...shouldn't take long!


After shorting the electrics yesterday when washing out my cement mixer, turns out the fuse had blown and I had to mix my muck [mortar] for laying the concrete block piers for the Addition+ garden room by hand.

Not an onerous task as I didnt need too much, though it brought memories flooding back of learning to mix muck with my father as a young boy, probably 9 or 10 years old.  Not a hard skill, only one of learning the quantities, mixing the dry 'ingredients' well, making a well for the water and carefully folding in the dry sand/cement mix hoping that the walls dont break and watery cement flooding out.  For a youngster I found it physically hard as the shovel was so big for me and mixing was hard work for an undeveloped body. I loved the pattern that was left at the end of mixing that indicates that it is just right, it meant that the exertions had finished.

It reminded me of the fact that I spent a lot of my weekends and holidays helping my father, if I wanted to spend time with him then I had to work with him, that was just the way it was.  He was busy with building our house and running his business, and I believe parents had a different attitude to now, none of that entertaining the kids all the time.  We played, they got on with work, or we helped them. It taught me my skills from an early age, mostly from observing and playing at an even earlier age with the muck that my father had made, using a pointing trowel to make roads and mountains in the muck on the spot board. He must have had a lot of patience with me as I am sure I complained bitterly every time he destroyed my creation when trying to lay his bricks.

Thanks Len and wishing you a very happy Fathers Day for this Sunday.

Addition+ breaks ground

After many weeks in the workshop fabricating the insulated structure for the first Addition+ garden room, today I broke ground, lots of sweat, heavy digging and a fantastic earthy smell.  It feels so good to be out in the open, starting to physically build.

breaking ground.jpg

Hopefully the room will be up within the next couple of weeks and should look something like the quick photomontage that I put together for the clients from the Sketchup model.

Garth+Sheila Thorn - Garden Room image - From front for web blog.jpg

hangUps are on their way

The first hangUp skate hooks are on their way...actually arrived with their purchasers.  Many thanks to you and I hope you enjoy them.

Any one that knows me will know, I am not a great fan of packaging and the recycling industry that has been created around it.  A green bin is only a black bin with a make over! Dont we all feel better because we are recycling and our green rubbish gets shipped over to China to be sorted?  Dosen't sound too environmental to me.  

It occured to me a few years back that the real problem is the manufacturers and the best solution is that the issue of waste is sorted out before the user has to throw it away with reduction + innovative packaging design, though the goverment dosent seem to want to seriously tackle it at source.

So here is the rub - I am now making stuff, well that is okay I think as we all want nice things, though how to package the products that I make to send out to you.  So in my small way I am going to try to act as I like to think all other manufacturers/producers should and produce minimal packaging and to reuse used materials as much as I can.  So please meet my packaging department...

...its amazing how much packaging that we throw away and those juice cartons are tough and waterproof, ideal for packaging up hangUps

The packaging that holds the screws + masonry plugs and gives some info on the product is also reused material, made from off cuts from building membrane, super tough, waterproof and breatherable! 

I came across an oragami technique called Menko that folds a square of building membrane into a little envelope to contain the fixings, that is then tied onto the hangUp.  I like the fact that a little container can be folded together with a little skill and no sticky stuff [except a little sticker on the back].  It adds a little experience to the act of opening the packaging revealing itself in layers.  My hope is that it may be kept and used again to store little things, or maybe the square can be refolded into another object... I must have a look for some other oragami ideas for the packaging.  Please let me know if you have any good suggestions.

Even if the packing is thrown away then it has already had one further use, surely this should be the future.

Addition+ is on its way

The first Addition+Bespoke garden room is in the fabrication stage of the structure, for clients in Exeter.  The structure is an insulated cassette design that is made up off site, with a growing pile of parts.  These will be slotted together onsite for a rapid build.  The structure will then be finished off on site with larch and curved wiggly tin roof on the outside and birch ply to the interior.

Floor cassettes small.jpg

hangUp is available now

hangUp my new range of bent birch ply hooks for hanging up skateboards and scooters is now available.  

Are your kids scooters and skateboards always kicking around and in the way?  hangUp is a simple hook to hang them up on the wall and get them out of the way.

Available in two flavours - skate is a two pronged hook designed to fit both stunt skateboards and longboards.

scooter is a single pronged hook to hangUp both stunt scooters and fold up scooters flat against a wall.  Ours fit nicely away behind the front door.

No skateboards or scooters? They work really well for coats too!

Both flavours are £10 each with a couple of pounds extra if I need to post them to you.

Look out for hangUp guitar in design stage...

hang Up

hang Up is coming soon... scooter, skate, coat... it does it all!

Spent a couple days this week developing a quick and dirty knock up for tidying up the scooters and skate boards that litter our floors. Get them on the wall so we dont keep tripping over them.  The ply wall hooks are inspired by skate board decks technology and also cross over as a cool looking hook for jackets too.   So exciting to prototype and get to a finished article in such a short space of time.

These will be up and available on the website and I hope through local skate shops very soon...

Prickly sauce has arrived

Pricklysauce has arrived!  After a lifetime of making, creating, designing, learning, exploring I have brought it all together as pricklysauce, a place to think, design + make.

Life seems so prescriptive and pigeon holed and I struggle to stay inside the boxes. I don't want to be a Joiner, Architect, Technician, Designer... I want to be them all and more.  I want to create, I want to create anything and everything, great places in your garden to expand your home, products that I want that I know that you will want, tackle and push at everyday products and ways of doing, writing programs to make the computer work as it should....

So pricklysauce is about doing, doing it all.  

I hope you enjoy my journey and will come along with me.