Thursday, July 31, 2014

For your viewing pleasure: Donald Duck Discovers Geometry!

I am busy preparing for the Timber Framers Guild Annual Conference next week: posters for the bus tour people  to consider at the Sandown Meeting House, a power point presentation for the session on the following day.

I have learned so much since I began blogging about geometry and construction that many of my diagrams have needed to be completely rethought and redrawn. I expect to learn more from the other speakers. I will take notes.

Meanwhile my cousin who is a Coastal Engineer sent me Donald in Mathmagic Land:

The cartoon is long, but fun and full of geometry. The Greeks play jazz and explore the Golden Section. Donald tries to play chess with Lewis Carroll's Red Queen. But it also features lots of those pentagons that Jay Cougar White Cloud has been telling me I need to learn about! I think he's right, I just haven't uncovered any yet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Timber Framers Guild Conference, Manchester, NH, Aug 7-10, 2014

I will be speaking at the TFG  Conference, Friday afternoon, Aug. 8, on geometry in the  States, 1683  through 1850. I will begin with the First Period houses in Topsfield, MA, and end with the 1850's dismantled railroad shed. I will  use the diagrams and photographs from this bog.

The day before, Aug. 7th, the TFG bus tour will stop at the Sandown Meeting House. I will be there to explain the geometry.  I will have the diagrams. I will also encourage people to stand in the pulpit and sense the space. The attic will be open. Will Truax will be up there in the trusses with windows and a roof hatch open. A permanent steep stair leads up to the trusses and a board walk is in place across to a now missing chimney, so it is reasonably safe. No one should go through the 250 yr. old plaster ceiling!
The Sandown historians will be there as will First Period Colonial, Bob Pothier, the carpenter for the last set of repairs.

The recent workshop at Trillium Dell with Laurie Smith brought up lots of ideas and questions which I do not expect to answer before the talk.
Some of the issues are simple:What do we call certain recurring forms and geometries?  We need a common language.

Some more complex:
Is there any indication that the houses I am looking at  begin with circles which laid out that first square?
Were the master carpenters and owners whose houses I have laid out trained in the guilds in England? Is there a record that they studied geometry?
Am I seeing different geometries because of different framing systems? For example: the geometry noting cut lines, not center lines, for interlocked log walls in Virginia - or because the people came from different parts of England with different training? What about the Dutch? the Germans? the French and Swedes?

Am I seeing the length of a rod: 16 feet 6 inches, and not noticing? Laurie Smith finds it to be a common, basic dimension in England and Wales.
Have I missed it because I haven't been thinking about it? If the framers here were not apprenticed to someone trained in the ways of the old country would they have adopted another length?

The Timber Framers have suggested that people who might like to come only to my talk need not pay the fee for the whole day - which includes food as well as all the other sessions - but could simply make a donation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Geometric Design Intensive, June 2014

I helped built this.

Laurie Smith came to Trillium Dell Timberworks in Knoxville, Illinois, in the end of June  for a 9 day  Geometric Design Intensive.
Here is how it was described in the Timber Framers' Weekly Guild Notes for May 30th:

"Taught by Laurie Smith and Rick Collins. Follow a geometrically designed octagonal hardwood frame from start (a pair of dividers) to finish (a gift to the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department and the community of Knoxville). Expand your knowledge of medieval frame design, compound roofs, and hand tools. Learn about an ancient, viable building language. It's two events in one--the entire nine-day intensive, and the weekend rendezvous-style raising. Hosted by Trillium Dell Timberworks."

I was there.
Was it intense? Did I expand my knowledge? a lot?  Do I speak a new language better than I did before?
Yes, of course. (Minor understatement!) Much more than I had imagined when I decided to attend. I had a wonderful time!

We used geometry. We used numbers only incidentally as a comparison. We put in 12 hrs. most days, about 16 the final day, the Summer Solstice. We added the evergreen swag to the pinnacle of the  frame as the sun went down.
Laurie Smith  lectured  and taught geometry 5 mornings and was present in the 'Beamery' in the afternoons, discussing, advising, teaching. All of us had come specifically to work with him.

top picture: the drawings we started with
middle picture: Laurie Smith working out a problem with Patrick while John carves the king post
bottom picture: The Beamery where we worked, left; Trillium Dell's office, right. Our finished timbers ready for assembly in the foreground.

These pictures:

the pavilion from above
the guys in the rafters
us all on the frame for the 'portrait'

these photographs, and the first one, taken by Kendell Anquist.
The others by me.

When the town determines the location  the pavilion will be located where it can be used, in town, not here in the field where we assembled it. There will be a roof, a floor, and entry porch and some porous side walls.