Crazily Cozy Condominiums: Putting Those Giant Redwood Resources to Work!
Issue: Issue 322.5
Posted Date: 4/1/2013
Peter P. Robinson began his woodworking career, as you might expect given the Swiss heritage of his family, as a maker of cuckoo clocks. But soon, the California resident caught a larger vision.
"I'm living in the land of giant redwoods. Come on, look at all that wood just sitting there in a forest, going to waste," Peter said. "Before me, nobody was whittling on these things with a pocketknife, let alone taking an adze to them."
Peter, on the other hand, employs adzes, as well as a variety of chisels, in creating what he considers his masterpieces: painstakingly hand-carved condominiums within a giant redwood.
"You don't need much insulation, because your walls are about 18 feet thick, plus you save on siding and such, since redwood stands up to exterior weather conditions so well. It's a great bargain for the house hunter," Peter said. "Plus, they get to live in a work of art."
Peter won't compromise on his artistic vision for these condominiums, insisting that each element must be carved by hand -- "plus, power tools scare the fluffy little squirrels," he said -- even if it means stretching the timeframe for a project's completion by a few years or so.
"I'm from a family with a lot of longevity," he said. "My dad's still running his Methusaleh's Timepieces business even at his age. If it takes me a decade or two per condo, so be it. The squirrels and I, we've gotten to be pretty close, so I can share their acorns in the meantime.
Chatter-chatter-chatter-screech!" (Editor's Note: Peter refused to translate the last portion of that quote from the language of squirrel, and we were unable to run it through translation software. We trust that it remains appropriate for a family publication.)
Peter takes much of his design inspiration from such well-known architects as Mickey Conrad ("M.C.") Ischer and Marcus Aurelius Pally. They've inspired him, he says, to reach as high as he could -- "and around here, on a giant redwood, that goes up pretty far."
He's still using some of the things he learned at his father's woodworking knee in these projects, adding elaborate carvings where he can -- and making sure to leave room for tiny little doors that carved figures on springs can emerge from. Those aren't always birds. "I decided after one of my chats with him that Sasquatch just doesn't get enough respectful, realistic portrayals in artwork, so I've got some carvings of him planned for a few of these doors," Peter said.
Other artwork may be incorporated into the project "as I feel moved," Peter said. An "instantly recognizable" portrait of John Muir comes to mind. "I may even name the condo project after him," Peter said. "How could he object to people living so close to nature?"