Sam and his cousin Sasuke make templates for plywood that will be used to cover the walls and ceiling.
With graduation over, work on the Trailer Trash restoration has heated up. The 1951 Spartan Royal Mansion left it’s CalArts home on June 15 and was towed 10 miles to a canyon on the the outskirts of Santa Clarita, where lizards and coyote are almost as plentiful as motorcycles rushing to the Angeles National Forest.
In June, Sam’s cousin, Sasuke, came from Japan to help out. A recent graduate in geology from Kyoto University, he spent a month working with Sam inside the trailer. (Sasuke has an interest in nuclear energy and hekept us posted on recent happenings at the Fukushima nuclear reactor.)
The task at hand was to the walls and ceiling. First, Sasuke attached wooden strips to along the ribs where the cabinets and closets will eventually be installed. Then he fashioned carboard templates which will be used as a pattern for the plywood that will cover the walls. The job isn’t as easy as it looks; it requires lots of measuring, precision and patience. Although he had little building experience, it is hard to imagine how Sam would have gotten the job done without Sasuke’s help!
If you are considering volunteering your time with The Trailer Trash Project, this slideshow might show you the kind of work we’re involved with now:
This trailer restoration started out as a Zen affair. I had a strong sense of purpose. I was fulfilling my need to create something tangible, useful for someone else but myself. After studying acting for two years, and spending a whole lot of time thinking about myself (how to carry myself, how to market myself) I began to feel as though I was missing something truly vital.
The project wasn’t only about giving back. It was also about adding a dose of humanity to a learning process that can easily become contrived. So I was convinced that the Spartan was my key to success. Now a month and a half later, more often than not, I feel as though I might just be losing my mind.
There’s so much to keep track of that I’m making many lists. But I have too many lists to keep track of. There are too few hours in the day. I get out of class in the evenings and work on the trailer till late at night.
My mentor tells me I need a plan but it’s a whole lot easier to paint a chassis than to
Sam and his mentor, sculptor and CalArts faculty member Michael Darling who came on his day off to help Sam weld a replacement rib onto the chassis.
make a plan- so most of the time I put it off. I’m not a planner, but I’ve been doing my best at it – even though I think I might actually have some allergic reaction to that activity. My plan, when I make one, goes like this: week 1: prep chassis for new floor, order plywood floor for next week’s installation etc.. I can think about the next 2 weeks or so, but I have a hard time getting my head around the big picture- it feels like a distraction. I know, that sounds absurd. It’s just that there’s so much going on and so many windows and screws and paints and materials to think about that I fear I’ll get lost in all the planning and never actually get any work done. So I start working… furiously. And then, of course, I end up hitting brick walls. I’ll start thinking about the configuration of the sub-floor but I get stuck because the gray water holding tanks have to be welded on to the chassis and installed before the floor can get laid over.
So I’m finally starting to warm up to the (basic!) notion that the more I know what the trailer will look like as a final project the less overwhelming it will all be.
I view this week as a test. Next Saturday, I will be towing the Spartan about 6 miles away to Newhall. Students in the Arts and Activism class at Calarts (who volunteered to be on the trailer committee) and I, will be giving a workshop to the kids and parents of Nomadlab. We are planning a series of games and exercises for them that will take place in and around the trailer, and center around the idea of “home”. I hope that the trailer will be an opportunity to talk about what home means for them and what their ideal home would look like.
I have 5 days to get a floor in!
Trailer Trash: 60-year-old fiberglass insulation headed for CalArts’ trash bin for building materials than can not be recycled.