Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pennsic House: The pay off.

Gregory and I arrived at Pennsic Sunday afternoon and Casa Bardicci was starting construction. In order for us to set up the house in the planned orientation, the entire Casa layout was shifted to the south 12 ft. 

 Once the rear loggia (Balcony) was set up, we could layout the floor of the house. In order to level to floor I made a simple tube level. This is nothing more than a piece of tubing, clear Tygon in this case, with an added feature of a clear acrylic tube at each end and small metal stakes to hold the tubes vertically. Since water will seek out its own level, the tubes were just place at either end of the house frames and since the water surface is level at each end, we simply leveled the frames to this.
It took about an hour to level all 7 cross frames and crib up each one, because the ground as about a 1 ft. crown in this location. This time cribbing was made from sections of leftover 2x10’s, but now that I have the measurements of where the house sits (and will each year)  I will make dedicated blocks for each location under the cross frames. This will make the process much faster.
Once the floor was leveled and squared, we set up the vertical 4x4’s and the 2x10 frame. It went very fast with just Gregory and me, with some additional help when pieces needed to be handed up to the second floor. Once all of the structure was up, and the upstairs furniture was in place it was time to attach the walls.
Here is the house almost ready for walls (note the canal behind the house)
Remember me commenting on how the scaffold system would come back to bite me, well, here’s what happened.  I plugged in the scaffold support bars into the houses frame then because others were busy, I wrestled the 2x12 scaffold board to the back of the house where the canal is and into the bars myself. Not noticing I had rested the board on the 5/8” “locking” bar, instead of the ¾” “load” bar. Now the 5/8” bar should still have supported my weight, but I had not tested it, and it turns out it was not fabricated from low carbon stainless, but high carbon stainless, and it was too hard and brittle where I bent it. Because while on the scaffold right near the top of the stairs, I leaned over to grab another wall screw and heard a snap and instantly realized I was falling. Now early in my life I did stunt work, so I immediately tried to kick my body backwards towards the canal. Figuring it would be better to land in this putrid water than on the hard ground or the houses foundation. I partially hit the water and bounded my head off of something because I saw stars.  As I dragged myself towards the embankment I’m thinking, what the hell broke? Well a number of people saw this and came scrambling over to me. Meanwhile I was taking a mental inventory of my “parts” and thought ok, nothing hurts I must not have broken anything. It is then I looked down at my right chest and saw a rather large gash. Crap! This is definitely a hospital trip…and I Just bought this tee shirt! There wasn’t much blood but I was told in no uncertain terms an ambulance ride to Butler hospital was required.
I’m sure the hospital reception though I was a drunken homeless person because I was all wet, no shirt, missing one shoe and the back of my head was caked with black mud. After waiting in the triage center for a ½ hour the hole was given a good “scrubbing” (that felt “good”) and 14 stitches (on the outside, I don’t know how many inside. It turns out it was pretty deep) and a drain tube. Oh yeah and a huge bottle of antibiotics!
Two days later.
Well the next morning I went to see what had broken and saw the broken lock bar. I then realized my mistake and remembered that old adage, “When making something fool proof, Never underestimate the power of the fool.” Or as an old boss of mine said, “Next time I need a “dumbshit”, I can go myself!”

Gregory was a huge help and we (with me getting yelled at for lifting anything) were able to get the rest of the house together in the next couple of days. Here is the final result.
(Photo credits: Daniel P. Bronson, William J. Tifft, C. Gilman, Helena Hall, Eveline Darroch)



  1. That is beyond beautiful. Your work inspires me greatly! :D

    1. Thank you. Inspiration in others is the highest compliment.

  2. I have been following your progress on this blog, and the more I know about it, the more impressed I am. - Laurie Cavanaugh

  3. What an incredible place! I just re-joined SCA and am considering a tent from Cabellas as a first event dwelling. You really given me some great ideas. Hope your gash healed well.

  4. OMFG!
    I followed this on AA somewhat, but these are the best pics I've seen of this as a complete unit.
    You are an artist, sir.
    If you ever need a classically trained oil painter, who also knows his way around an airbrush and photoshop, you let me know.

  5. I am blown away!!! If I ever make it to Pennsic again, please let me stay with you... I suck in nature =)

  6. Glad you are okay. How long did it take you to put up and break down this impressive structure?

  7. Gorgeous! Hopefully will have a chance to see it in person! -- A Swamp Denizen

  8. Io mi fui dilettato per visitare Casa Bardicci coi Loro Maestà Reali Kiena e Gregor. Io assolutamente fui affascinato dal Suo genio nel pianificare, disegni, costruzione. Bravo! Grazie così molto per la Sua ospitalità graziosa!

    I was delighted to visit Casa Bardicci with Their Royal Majesties Kiena and Gregor. I was absolutely fascinated by your genius in engineering, design, construction. Bravo! Thank you so much for your gracious hospitality!
    Lady Constanza Maria Colonna m/k/a Constance M. Hull

  9. Excellent work as usual, and great job wowing that reporter from Philly. I hope your gash heals quickly and cleanly. Make up a colorful story about how you got it dueling in the street. I saw this inflatable fountain and immediately thought of your villa.

  10. I know this is an old article, but is there any chance you could share pics (or a link if done elsewhere) of the construction details? I would like to see how things are put together and I'm sure others would as well - links to suppliers would be cool also. My Household is talking about upping our presentation and possibly doing something similar for Pennsic in the future.

    1. Silvester,
      The first few posts on my blog are all of the construction details.

  11. Thank you Chris for sharing your beautiful Pensic House and how you went about building it. I hope you won't mind my using several of your building techniques to build something I have in mind on the back area of our property. Since we own six acres, I would like to build something more permanent and include an area for our group to meet each week for the various SCA meetings, including fighter practice. Your postings have given me some wonderful ideas and the gumption to go ahead and build what I've been thinking of building.