Archive for the ‘temples’ Category

The Yurt

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Yurt began it’s life as a concept, and as a Tipi.TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

The concept was the circle.  The sacred circle, the circle of life, the ritual circle.  Rae’s Tipi was at the end of its useful life, but the goddess figures from its interior were mostly still OK.  The Tipi was a home and a sacred space.  Living and worshiping in the round fascinated Rae, and she was drawn to the yurt concept even when she was working on the Tipi. She collected pictures and articles,  looked for details of construction, etc.  Rae bought a book in 2003: Tipis & Yurts: Authentic designs for Circular Shelters.

She considered buying a Yurt, or a Yurt kit, but the expense was considerable, and we had most of the skills.  Rae wrote to a yurt company for info, and they sent her a sample of their construction of the khans, the latticework that comprises the frame of the yurt.  It was made of clear pine 1 X 2, riveted with large aluminum rivets.  Most of the do-it-yourself instructions had either traditional string/twine, or 1/4″ bolts (which leave a lot of ends, can work their way loose, and added up to a LOT of bolts.
So we found a place that sold rivets wholesale, took our sample, found a match and bought 1000 plus an industrial rivet tool.  1 x 2 lumber is very seldom clear, but you can find 2X6 that is fairly knot-free, so we figured out the ideal width for the rivets (about 5/8″), and ripped a mess of them from 2X6 Douglas fir, set up a jig to drill the holes in exactly the same place in each piece, and riveted them together.  For ease of storage, we divided the khans into 2 parts, connected with bolts.  The calculations for where the holes went, were complicated, had to take into account the height we wanted (finished size with the roof had to fit into a standard room with 8′ ceiling), the circumference (she chose a 13′ circle, of course) minus the door, etc.

Black canvas was found for the walls, and sewed into 6′ by 37′ panels, one for the inside, one for the outside.  A waterproof top was found, and made into a form-fitting dome by cutting a wedge to the center, and having that heat-sealed by a local boat-cover maker (Marine Tops Unlimited, thanks Steve!).TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

We devised a method for rafter attachment at the center, non-traditional since no smoke hole was needed, added a track lighting setup, and attached a couple of hundred eye-hooks to the underside of the rafters, to hang  small plexiglass mirrors, cut into random shapes to represent broken stained glass, representing the “stained glass ceiling” limiting women’s roles in mainstream religion (picture below).  The door frame and door were designed and decorated, the 5 individual goddess figurines attached to the canvas, and it was ready to go!
yurt_open yurtgoddessmirror  glassceiling


The goddesses all had upraised arms, forming crescents around a circular mirror in place of a face.  each piece is special, and has a story.  Earth,  Spider, Fire, Water, and Buffalo.  They include stuffed-work, embroidery, bead-work, shells, and felting.

The interior floor is also canvas, with a painted pentagram, and religious symbols from multiple traditions stenciled around the edges.

This was Rae’s largest piece.  We are considering taking the 5 goddess figures and mounting them separately on frames, and offering them for sale.

Rainbow Tipi

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

rainbow-tipiThe Rainbow Tipi was one of Rae’s first large pieces as a student artist, around 1981  We were living in a trailer park in Iowa City, I was working at the Amana Furniture & Clock Shop, Rae was taking classes at the U of Iowa.  She was exploring her Native heritage, getting a few stories out of her mother, grandmother, other family.

Her vision was for a portable shrine or temple as the Yurt would later be.  She researched the history and construction of Tipis,  checked methods for decorating canvas, and designed the interior.

We had a small craft business, our own and consignment, we called The Enchanted Glade, in the “Hall Mall” in downtown Iowa City.  The name changed to the Rainbow Tipi when we moved to Ames later, in honor of the tipi, which we took camping to several pagan gatherings, and lived in our last 8 months in Iowa City, with both the boys as young kids.

EZ Casey tipi blanktipi_layouttipi_downThe canvas for the cover was laid out in our tiny yard in the trailer park, the design penciled on, then gesso wherever the paint was to go, then pencil again, using string to draw the arcs of the rainbow after figuring out how to get exactly 5 rainbows in the hemisphere.  The edge was painted black for about 14 inches, and around the top, the smoke hole, were the phases of the moon on a black background.

The interior of the tipi had a tipi liner, common in modern tipis, to allow air to come in around the base, flow between the tipi and inner liner, and then out, creating a draft to take smoke out, and keep the tipi cool in warm weather.

tipi_firedoorfelted goddesstipi_watertipigoddessearth

The liner was designed with 5 goddess figures on it, connected by more rainbows.  The door was was through a flame-circled womb.  A buffalo-woman made of felt, a water-goddess of blue silk with beadwork , a painted tree-bark inspired Earth Goddess, a spider-woman, and I just can’t remember what the last one was…Air? (several of these were later resurrected for the Yurt).  Each one had her arms curbing upward, and a silver painted moon/mirror in place of a head.

We used the tipi as a home, for camping at several Pagan events, and when we moved to Madison, we put it up out at Barb  and Cal’s farm, then a CSA, west of Madison.  They used it for some rituals, and as temporary shelter for some of their workers, I believe.  Eventually, as all canvas does, it was lost to the elements.  We had taken out the liner to store, since it was more fragile and we didn’t want the elements ruining it.  Which is how some of the interior pieces ended up in the Yurt piece.rae with tipi