Monday, October 27, 2008

Learn by doing

Pete is still working on the vardo. We have the back wall completely sided with tongue-and-groove white oak. Many people with MCS don't tolerate wood very well. Poplar and hard woods like maple are often sited as good options for those who do want to build with wood. We went with white oak after muscle testing many wood samples. White oak was the strongest positive choice. It does have a smell (like a fine wine basking in an oak barrel), but I went to an intuitive conjuring that went something like this: "hmm...strong black tea is rich in tannins (as is the oak), to neutralize the black tea, the Brits always added milk. okay, let's try neutralizing the oak tannins with milk paint. The siding is painted with milk paint from Homestead House in Ontario, Canada and we're using a beeswax finish they sell to seal the walls from the elements. I worked with and emailed many very gracious milk paint retailers and found most of them very understanding of my dilemna. We ordered samples and tested several paints. The one we finally choice comes from Homestead House in Ontario for two reasons: Jenny ... she was and still is a genuinely kind and knowledgable retailer. She has shipped me colors that I could only see via pages on the internet, and talked me through the possibilities I envisioned. The second reason is that at the time we bought our paint they were the ONLY company who had a history of experience using beeswax finish to coat the interior and exterior walls. I learned of a down-side to the beeswax by talking with the supplier of that beeswax finish... depending upon the level of acid in the rain where you live, the beeswax may not hold-up without frequent re-application. Inspite of that precaution we are going with the beeswax rather than using any clear chemically based coating over the milk paint. The picture of the finished back wall shows off the beautiful forrest of beeswaxed lau`ae ferns I stencilled to keep my dear Hawai`i close. The smell of those fern and the inimitable look of lau`ae are part of many island yards. I wanted to have them with us wherever we wander. Using milk paint and beeswax is a choice to be gentle and lean on any use of chemicals. Only time and experience will tell how successful our decision to use milk and beeswax is. The long search for a finish that would not knock us out while we paint, and/or continue to off-gas led us to this solution. The challenge of choosing materials and then testing these materials for safety/minimal ill-effects is HUGE for all who live with MCS. We researched and double/triple researched, prayed, muscled tested and put materials into bottles to give it the sniff test. It takes time, patience and willingess to find that you really don't have all the answers. And then, I have turned to Ke Akua and my guardians and asked them to do for me what I can not do for myself ... I try to remember every day to turn my fears over to Hina (the moon) and tell myself "Enough. You have done enough."

I'm still working on learning how to get the Comments link to show up on my posts so you can tell me what's on your mind after reading this. Like life, we're learning by doing. Thanks for your patience, keep coming back. Comments will show up sooner or later.
Are you an innovator? Where in your life do you make up the rules as you go?

Aloha, Mokihana


VardoForTwo said...

Yipppeee...the comments link works. Just put your curser on the "COMMENTS" and the Post a Comment page comes up. MAGIC!

Joy said...

Hi Mokihana! Congratulations on doing such an innovative project. I guess where needs must, the innovation comes naturally!

I'm also MCS and looking to build a small house. Probably not quite so small, and maybe not even as portable, but your building materials are what I'm interested in. So I will follow your blog and see what you are using each step of the way. The info about the wood siding and milk-based paints is already very helpful.



VardoForTwo said...

So happy to read your comments. Thrilled to know VardoForTwo offers you some ideas that might work for you. The link to HomesteadHouse Paints is tricky,so if it doesn't come up for you, go directly to your search line and go see if that works for you.
All the best, Mokihana