I am invited to a small wild overgrown yard to come up with ideas for a treefort for the kids. The family recently bought the property and the kids think the yard as-is is too dark, too spidery, too unfriendly so my plan is to thin it a bit and entice them into it with some tree structures!
I draw my ideas on photocopies of photos of the yard to help everyone visualize the project and to see how it will look in place.
Then we get to build it! There's a multi-level treefort that connects with a 21ft long swinging bridge to a small clubhouse covered with rock climbing holds & plus there's a coil climber. There's also a zipline, and a water cannon for blasting those on the zipline. There's a giant rope for pulling yourself up the hill. I like to add in multiple ways up and down to keep the kids running round and round. Check out other photos on https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraButlerTreehouses
or visit my tumblr blog for photos throughout the installation: http://barbarabutlerartistbuilder.tumblr.com/
Featured today in the Wall Street Journal
In today's Wall Street Journal, The Dragon Castle Theater was featured. Check out the WSJ article
The Fully Loaded Mini Mansions
The video's fun to watch!
More information and photos on our website at the Dragon Castle Theater
- be sure to click on the "slideshow" for more photos.
Many beautiful colors on the Hideaway Fort
Boy Scouts make garden signs from donated redwood
When Mitch Sr. asked Barbara if she had any redwood scrapes to donate to his son's Boy Scout Troop, the answer was YES!
The troop was working on a community garden service project (for badges) at Stanton Elementary in Castro Valley, making 10 informative signs.
The teacher who runs the garden had a vision to turn a weedy hillside into an outdoor classroom, putting bricks in to honor all those who donated.
We received an excellent thank you note from Mitch Jr:
Hello Ms.Butler: my name is Mitch and I am a Boy Scout in Troop 726. I recently finished my Life Project in my road to Eagle. My project was to build 10 similar signs out of wood for the Stanton Elementary Garden. I could not have done this project without your generous donation of redwood supply for creating my signs. I believe that the Stanton Elementary Community will be very pleased with the signs I have made with your wood. In conclusion, THANK YOU for your wood for my project.Sincerely, Mitch, 14, Scout Troop 726
Re-staining the playhouse
11 years ago, Barbara made a beautiful Garden Playhouse for her niece, Melissa, and her adorable daughter, Lindsea, then only 2 years old.
Lindsea and her parents lived north of Seattle in a cute little town where it rained a lot! Over the years, the playhouse got a lot of use with play dates, birthday parties and just fun alone time in the back yard making cakes & mud pies, reading stories and playing princess.
Slowly the colors faded but no one really noticed. It was still their much-loved playhouse.
Then one day this summer, Barbara got a call - "send me some stains. Lindsea and I want to do a mother-daughter project this summer. We've decided to re-stain her playhouse!"
We gathered up the stain colors and shipped them to Melissa. Along with the stains, we sent clear tung-oil to apply as the final coat, plus brushes, sponges, plastic gloves, gojo wipes and detailed maintenance instructions.
It didn't take long! 1st sunny weekend day Lindsea (now just turned 13 years old) and her mom hit the backyard to re-do their playhouse.
First the walls in Castle Purple,
then the trims and shutters and carvings.
Followed by the roof and, voilà, the playhouse was beautiful again!
Lindsea, Jack (her Russell Terrior) and Melissa love the results.
And, they had a blast re-doing the playhouse, even changing some of the colors along the way.
Job well done!
Well used & well-loved Hideaway Fort passed on to a new family
Our story of our Barbara Butler Hideaway Fort and how we came to own it... from 2003 thru 2011:
It was 2002. My husband and I were strolling thru the S.F. Garden Show, then held at Fort Mason, San Francisco. I had recently seen a reference to Barbara's work in a magazine and suddenly there was a play structure in the middle of the show Marketplace... yes, it was a Barbara Butler Hideaway Fort. We looked, talked with the gang and continued on.
No sooner than 2 months later a large oak tree fell on our little play structure which had been tucked away in the corner of our yard. At the same time, we were moving to a new property in sunny Emerald Hills and decided that we would replace the damaged unit with that same item displayed at the show we had come upon a couple months back.
Jeff came to our house, spent an entire day digging, drilling and installing the Hideaway Fort with the world's best slide ever... even for adults. My son and daughter loved climbing the wall, going down that slide over and over and crawling thru the secret door, not to mention the endless imaginary pieces of mail passed thru the slot marked "MAIL" next to the door.
Time went on and we had Barbara design an additional swing feature and a chin up bar for swinging, hoisting and whatever. We even braved their meticulous techniques and added on a glider ourselves, true to the B.Butler construction and staining methods. Many games, parties and time passed on this thing... and our yard always had the beauty of a well designed and crafted play fort gracing the garden and grounds.
In 2008, we moved again, brought it along, refinished the surface to its original glory (see image, above) and once again the games and climbing started over, this time adjacent to a soaring stand of redwoods in the hills of Woodside, CA.
Now it is May, 2011 and I am sad, yet thrilled at the same time, to be passing our beloved fort along to a new family in Los Altos, CA. There, 3 young boys will have never-ending fun on one of Barbara's creations.
We will miss our Hideaway Fort yet smile as we know it will continue to bring fun and wonder to another yard and family.
Labels: Finished Photos, Play Forts, Refurbished
The goal was to design a play structure that incorporated the trees, tucked into this corner of the yard, that wouldn't overwhelm but would be big enough for the many grandchildren that visit every year.
Barbara's "stickout" (above) and Artist's Sketch (below) shows the ultimate design the client's settled on: King Fort up front, bridge to the back, passing by the sapling, up to the Clubhouse perched on a tree deck 9' off the ground, with steps down to a Zip Line ride "take-off" platform.
Swinging Bridge leading up to the Tree Perch...
Great Zip Line Ride:
fun for grandchildren and grandfathers!
Labels: Artist Sketch, Finished Photos, Play Structures, Treehouses, Zip Line