Yurts - Living in the Round. Accommodation or Studio?

What is a Yurt?
A Yurt is a traditional nomadic structure of the Mongolian people. Yurts are often described as the bridge between a tent and a building. The majority of the Mongolian population still live in Yurts. (In Monglia a Yurt is know as a "Ger")

Here is a video of our Yurt inside and out:

  • There are many varieties of Yurts with many suppliers. I did a lot of research before sourcing my structure. (It's an obsession!) There's a whole range of issues to consider. Quality, ethics and suitability were among the most important for me.
  • English made Yurts (normally "Bent Wood" - giving a curved roof shape,) tend to be very expensive and normally have just a single canvas cover. They are almost always ethically produced and locally sourced however.
  • Mongolian Yurts tend to be much heavier structures with lager crown wheels letting in lots of light. Mongolian Yurt covers normally consist of multiple layers including felted sheep wool for insulation. On the downside, Mongolian Yurts often suffer from poor quality construction, toxic materials (...the lead paint) and generally unethically sourced wood and labour. Mongolian Yurts are rarely designed to hold up in our damp English climate which commonly results in leaks and mould.
  • The structure I used is a Mongolian Yurt, but one that is produced specifically for our climate. To me it seemed to tick all the boxes. It is produced by an English guy called Tim who has lived in Mongolia for many years improving production in his own workshop. Although similar in appearance and still implementing traditional design techniques and materials (horse hair ropes, Yak hide fasteners etc.) This Yurt is fundamentally different under the surface. The layered covers of the structure provide Hi Tech solutions for weather resistance and breath-ability. The four layers keep everything warm, cosy and quiet inside. The wood is all legally sourced and the workers respected and cared for.
  • Click HERE Have a look a look at Tim's website, it's full of great information.
  • Tim displays some of our Yurt pictures in the gallery on his website.
There was an old shed on the site where this yurt was to be erected:

The decking and preparation
  • After breaking down the old old shed and clearing some space a raised floor was made. (See above)
  • Being off the floor makes the space feel more solid, keeps it warmer and dryer and stops insects and other creepy crawlies from joining in the fun.
  • This decking (above) was made from old shipping pallets that were attained for free from a local farmer.
  • The pallet decking was then covered with a PVC damp proof membrane and then had a nine piece handmade floor board decking placed on top, this can be seen here:
Here's the yurt once it was erected

The interior

Earth Ovens - I want a loaf of bread (or a Pizza) but I'm in the forest and I don't have a oven. How can I make one of those?

At a Rainbow Gathering in Sussex a collective effort was made to create this oven.

  • First a lightly woven oven frame was made from soft green (alive) twigs and string, Modelled here beautifully by Chris.
  • A tightly packed mud/ clay foundation is created to support the walls. (See below)
  • The "Igloo" like structure was then covered with layers of damp newspaper.
  • Mud was then layered up over the structure until a thick wall was created.
  • Mud ovens are best left to dry naturally, using a fire to dry the clay will result in more cracks and a weaker structure.
  • Finally adjustments to the door and any ventilation will need to be made so that the oven stays lit and is easy to use. These adjustments will be different every time and need to be assessed on a case by case basis. In general the top of the door should be more than half way to the ceiling of the oven. (The oven below would need to be fitted with a "chimney vent" allowing for a convection.)
  • To use a Earth Oven a fire is made inside, once a nice pile of embers has been achieved these are pushed towards the back and sides of the oven. It's these glowing embers and the residual heat stored in the thermal mass of the thick walls that can bake your bread (or Pizza!)
  • Between baking's straw and light twigs can be used to "flare up" the fire... This sinks more heat into the oven structure and maintains the temperatures.
  • Earth/ Mud ovens like these are capable of reaching much higher temperatures than a conventional domestic oven. Resulting in professional Italian standard Pizza.
Pictured below is an oven made at a Swiss Rainbow Gathering. 
It took many days to complete.
The Bread was lovely! Not to mention the Pizza!

There is no one way to make a mud oven, nor one way to use a mud oven.
The best way to learn, like many things, is to just get out there and do it!

If all that seems like to much work though and you just want to get a pot on, a simple kitchen structure can be dug into the ground in no time (see below.) Local rocks, clay cement and some old Road Pins made a very effective Hob.

Apple Press - I've got loads of Apples, I wish I had an apple press. How can I make one of those?

It was that time of year when all the apples were ready
So I built this machine to press them and make lots of lovely juice.
  • I found an old car jack, it's this that supplies the power to press the apples.
  • The timber frame could have been made to many designs, I decided to keep it simple.
  • The timber used in constructing this press was once part of a shed that I demolished.
  • An enamel baking tray was used to collect the juice. I fitted a drainage hole and a pipe to channel the juice to my containers.
  • The apples were then mashed into a pulp with a sledge hammer in a bucket. (see below.)
  • The pulp was wrapped in net curtain fabric to make little packets.
  • The packets were then stacked under the press one on top of each other.
  • The pressing Began!
  • Collected juice was then bottled with added brewers yeast and left to ferment.
  • After fermentation was complete the Cider was bottled and stored in a cool dark place.
As soon as I built this machine offers of apples came in from every angle!

Horseshoe Trivet - Bushcraft fire Camp Cooker, Camping Stove, Iron Tripod

Handmade Horseshoe Trivet
Bushcraft fire Camp Cooker, Camping Stove, Iron Tripod
Put the kettle on! 
Anyone who has cooked over an open fire will know the shame of a spilled dinner from a poorly balanced pot resting on some rocks or old bricks.
Enough was enough when the last kettle I will ever spill came tumbling from it's perch.

 I made a trivets from scrap horseshoes
I enjoyed this process so much that I decided to sell these items. They're a rare item and always very popular

    To buy a Trivet click 
    Off Grid cooking, ideal for festivals and camping

    To buy a Trivet click 

    Tripod Trivet - Cooking on an open fire is a joy! How can I make one of those?

    Anyone who has cooked over an open fire will know the shame of a spilled dinner from a poorly balanced pot resting on some rocks or old bricks.
    Enough was enough when the last kettle I will ever spill came tumbling from it's perch.

     How can I make a trivet?
    I enjoyed this process so much and stumbled across such an abundance of materials that I sell these items.
    To buy these Trivets click 
    • I sourced a supply of horseshoes. Stables and Horse owning friends were a good start.
    • I chose a design and found some legs, old road pins worked well.
    • I learned to weld, (it's easier than it looks!) Use all the correct safety equipment and pray!
    • Lastly I rubbed down the frame before coating with a heat resistant finish.

    Trying it out for size!
    Off Grid cooking, ideal for festivals and camping
    To buy these Trivets click 

    Boat Repair - I wanted a cheap boat, how can I make one of those?

     A half rotten 26year old boat

    • I located a rotten old boat, this one was a gift from freecycle.com
    • Then the job was to cut back all the rotten wood and peel away all the flaky and old varnish.
    • Next I mixed some resin and hardener to soak some fibre glass sheets.
    • Layering the fibreglass sheets over the holes and eventually making good with sand paper.
    • I used epoxy filler to fill any recesses left in the repair work.
    • Then sanded down the filler and touched up with wood stain to hide the repairs.
    • Lastly I rubbed down the whole boat and re-varnished.
    The finished article

    Now, just for a name. Any suggestions?