Introduction 1. I am setting out to build a tree house. My big questions that will need to be followed are: a. How do you build a tree house? b. What research needs to be done beforehand? c. How are tree houses significant to me and to history? d. What will I do to share this project?
2. Throughout history tree houses have been sanctuaries for many people: for people of the South Pacific, for kids, wanting to play without interruption or being chased by a bully, or for adults who have a fondness for outdoors and trees and need to go back to that feeling they get while being up so high. Since ancient days, people like the New Guinea people have been looking to the treetops for shelter from predators and floods. Many other people adopted tree houses purely for entertainment purposes. Even as far back as the Middle Ages, tree houses have served as attractions for royalty or as restaurants for the commoners. People might think that tree houses are just for little kids, or just for boys in particular, but I believe that anybody who loves being outside and needs a sanctuary from earthly pressures is fit for a tree house. These days, many more adults have been creating their own tree houses, whether for an office, a summer getaway, or for a full time home. Tree houses serve as a creative outlet for our pent-up thoughts and as a place to be creative. I fancy myself as having an affinity for trees and I also would love a natural place to just be alone sometimes. I've decided that I should build a tree house at my Aunt's house so that I can share this sanctuary with my cousins as well as my siblings.
3. There are many reasons why I want to do this project, the most important being my family. When we were small, my brother, my sister and I used to spend hours in the summer coming up with blue prints for various tree houses and clubhouses, complete with trap doors and windows. Although we were all involved, my brother, being the oldest and most inventive, was the driving force behind everything. My brother is now majoring in engineering in college and I miss him quite a lot. This project is a tribute to him and his creativity. It was him who inspired me to do this project. My dad also helped us kids and fueled our creative imaginations by actually helping us to build a clubhouse behind our house. My dad is a doctor and very handy with tools and such. He built almost our whole house with his dad and has continued to do any renovations and additions by himself. For as long as I can remember I loved spending the weekends helping my dad on the roof, doing woodwork in the garage, or creating a clubhouse. I even remember liking that I got splinters in my fingers, thinking that it made me just as cool as my dad. We would spend the next hour after we finished working, showering and eating and picking the splinters out of our hands. I've picked up my love of hands-on woodwork and construction from him. I thought that the quality project was the perfect excuse to take time out of my all-too-busy life to go back to my roots and try to build something on my own.
Literature Review Intro: I read, "Tree Houses Take a Bough" by Suki Casanave. Casanave eloquently weaves
Mindy Chow together stories of tree houses from all around the country, showing the reader the wonders of tree houses and the many uses people have come up with. This article turned out to be all that I wanted it to be and more. Basically, I just wanted something that I could start research with and this was so much more than that. It had a bit of historic background about the very first tree houses and had many examples of modern day tree houses. Historic Tree Houses: Casanave knew a lot about tree houses, past and present. I have a few examples of the kinds of stories she told in this article: "The notion of building shelters in treetops is not new. Old engravings depict treetop dwellers in the South Pacific living in thatched nests and riding up and down in baskets. In New Guinea, tree houses offered protection from enemy attack." "In France, a chestnut-lined street in a town just west of Paris became known in the mid-19th century for its arboreal restaurants. While musicians and dancers made merry on the ground, diners climbed into small gazebo-style dining rooms among the branches and were served elaborate meals hauled up by means of ropes and pulleys."
Before reading this article I had no idea that tree houses were as popular in Europe as in the South Pacific. There were also mentions to tree houses in Europe that attracted queens and princesses. Modern Construction: Besides having many anecdotes about people all over that have built their own tree houses for various reasons, Casanave made references to a book and a workshop by a tree house master, Peter Nelson.
Mindy Chow "But there was never a “tree-house central” until Peter Nelson came along. Thanks to his book, Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb (Houghton Mifflin), the arboreally inclined are starting to discover each other." "Last fall, Nelson, who thinks anyone can learn to build a house in a tree, conducted a workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York… As Nelson explains in his book, you build a tree house pretty much the same way you build a regular house. The first component is a sturdy platform consisting of beams, joists and flooring… By the end of the workshop's second day, the platforms for both houses were nearly finished." I think that Peter Nelson's book might be an excellent resource that I can really use. Next Step: Now that I know more about the history of tree houses, and the modern day masters of tree houses, the next step for me is to figure out exactly how to build a tree house and exactly how I want to build my tree house. I've also decided that after seeing the things about Peter Nelson's tree-house-making workshop that Casanave attended, I think that reading "Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb" will be really helpful and I've been trying to get it from a library.
Process and Methods For my "Process and Methods" section of work, I have chosen to create basically a revised journal log of all my doings. I will have specific dates and then descriptions of what I did on those dates. There will also be some pictures included of the actual doings.
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Today, we went to the library to find foundational research to get us started. We used
Punahou Library's research databases to find better sources than Google would have allowed us. Using EBSCOHost databases, I found an excellent article called, "Tree Houses Take a Bough" by Suki Casanave. Also, a librarian recommended I read the book, Marcelo in the Real World. She said that the main character lived in a tree house and that it held some symbolism that I might find useful.
Started and finished reading, the very interesting article by Casanave. I took about a half
page of notes and also found reference to a book all about tree houses: Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb by Peter Nelson. I searched the local libraries catalogs for both this book and Marcelo in the Real World and found them both listed at Hawaii Kai Public Library.
Planned to look for both books at Hawaii Kai Public Library, but found that libraries
actually take "furlough Wednesdays" (which was news to me).
In the morning I made a rough draft of the Literature Review of the article I initially found.
(Due on 4/26). In the early afternoon I had a conference with Mr. Watson and asked him to go over my introduction and Lit Review with me. This conference was all I needed to spark a second draft of my Lit Review (very helpful). The two books (Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb and Marcelo in the Real World) were both successfully found at Hawaii Kai Public Library.
Now reading Marcelo in the Real World. (ended up around chapter 5)
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I spent the day at my Aunt's house and went exploring through the forest that is her
backyard. Found the perfect tree for a really complicated tree house.
The tree was absolutely huge! Had to be at least 15 or 20 feet from the base of the trunk to where it opened into a hand.
Mindy Chow I also started reading the book, Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb. 4/2
I turned in the revised Literature Review.
Read through the whole book, Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb.
Found some good information on how I would make a tree house in the tree that I had found. But, the information was daunting because the sketches and pictures looked absolutely professional and entirely too complex for me. So I began thinking of alternatives like switching to building a 4-tree tree house. I also did some rough sketches in my journal of possibilities and talked to my dad. He recommended the 4-tree tree house, pointing out the built in ladder and flatter platform.
Finished reading both Tree Houses: The Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb and
Marcelo in the Real World (while away on trip). To be honest, the tree house in the novel I
read, (Marcelo in the Real World), was not that important. It was a very good book and I'm glad I took the time to read it but the tree house "symbolism" really wasn't as big as I thought it might have been.
I spent a few minutes each of these nights consulting with my dad and getting his ideas on
how to build things and such. He drew me a sketch, depicting a rough idea that would
work well for a tree house.
I spent today at my Aunt's house again. For about a half hour or 45 minutes, I wandered the forest and mountain behind her house, searching for the right trees to build in. In the end I picked a group of 4 trees that were arranged in a triangle. Three of the trees were in a rough line and then there was another one a ways away from them, thus the triangular
shape. I then constructed a couple of rungs between two of the trees that will allow easy access to
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the platform. Finally I finished all sketches and plans for the tree house and made a list of tools and lumber that would be needed. Gathered everything together and spent the entire day at my Aunt's house with my brother who is back from college, constructing the platform and main walls. Of course when we actually started building the platform, our plan changed again. We changed the platform from a rectangle shape to a roughly triangular shape.
My brother and I measured and cut the crossbeams and then nailed them into the frame. After hauling the large and heavy pieces of plywood up to the tree, we laid them across the top and marked where we would have to cut them. We then spent a good 15 minutes hammering nails through the plywood, trying to find exactly where the crossbeams were. Once the plywood pieces were secured, we started constructing the main wall on top of the platform. We made the wall out of 2x4's and 2x3's and then measured out a piece of plywood that would fit (leaving a space for the doorway). We then propped the wall up against the three trees that were aligned and nailed it down into the platform and the trees.
On the side across from the main wall, the side with only one tree, we constructed a similar but smaller wall, in the same way. After securing that wall in place, we put several cross beams between the walls and finished it off by screwing another piece of plywood onto them. For now, the other 2 sides of the house are open, leaving a great view of the surrounding forest and animals. All in all, the tree house turned out exactly as I wanted it to, a simple place just to get away from the mundane worlds' burdens.
Reflection My tree house is so much more than what I thought it could ever be. At first I believed tree houses to be nothing other than a playhouse for youngsters. But after all the work I've put into my little wreck of a tree house, I realize how much more it is. I've heard the whole spiel about how "when you put time and effort and thought and money into something, you care a whole lot more about it". But I never realized how true it really is. Add research into the equation and you'll not only care so much more, you'll know so much more. Looking back at how I was at the beginning of the project, I didn't know the first thing about building tree houses. And now, I know why you cant just nail straight into the trees anywhere you want; I know how to create a platform between multiple trees; I know that there are so many different types of tree houses than the single one in my childhood dreams. I also know that a tree house can be anything you want it to be. It can be a place to get away from parents, a place to hang with friends over night, or a sanctuary from the many hurts we will all encounter. My projects unique quintessential moment was amazing to me. I remember specifically
Mindy Chow the time when my tree house, started feeling like a sanctuary to me. This was the moment when I realized how much this place, in the middle of some small forest, was really going to mean to me. It was when we finally finished the platform. The platform was only 6 or 7 feet off the ground and made of mere 2x4's and plywood but it felt like a home to me. When I sat on the edge of that platform, with my feet hanging off the edge, recognition of something special flashed through me. It was something that I had never felt before and it hopefully will stay with me for the years to come. I hope I remember that relief and comfort are only 6 feet off the ground. It was also weird because I thought that a main quintessential moment would be when I was actually done building and everything, but in reality it wasn't. I had already realized what the tree house would be for me, finishing it didn't change that. I was only kind of sad that it was all over. Since I had put so much care into the project, it made the overall thing "Quality" and it also caused me to feel sad when it was over. I had put in hours and hours of research and reading before even starting to plan the tree house. I read through many articles on the Internet, not many actually being all too helpful. I did find 3 very good pieces of work that helped me a whole lot. I found an article that lead to a book that helped with the actual construction of my project. Also, I found a book in which a highly functioning autistic teenage boy lived by himself in a tree house. After reading that last book, I had no idea why it was recommended to me. I had no idea what the tree house symbolized for the boy. Funny that I had to experience what he felt in order to start comprehending why he needed that tree house. Marcelo, the main character, was forced to work in the "real world" one summer and the "real world" is filled with fake people, people who do not say what they mean and pretend to be some one they're not. Marcelo does not understand these people and they do not understand him in return. Some mock him, some ignore,
Mindy Chow but almost no one appreciates him or recognizes him. Marcelo feels like he drowns in the "real world" and therefore I understand why he needs a sanctuary like a tree house. Tree houses lift the burden of the real world off your shoulders and make you feel like there's nothing in the world that you can't handle. Once I had my quintessential moment, my thoughts about the book, "Marcelo in the Real World" changed completely. It wasn't explicitly about an autistic teenage boy; it was about anyone who doesn't always fit in. It was for those who sometimes feel like they're outcasts, like everyone else is different, and for those who need a sanctuary from the real world. It helped me understand the significance of a tree house, of a much-needed sanctuary. I am so glad that I built a tree house for my quality project because I learned so much from it. Not just about building and things, but about life and everything in the world. And I have gained a lot physically as well. I now have a place in my world, where I can escape the "real world".