Every month or so we’ll be profiling a homesteader, or outdoors-person who has an interesting skill or project. This month it’s Nick Clark, a Portland based sculptor (welding) and blacksmith with large-scale visions for his art, who has built a remote cabin on 35 acres in Eastern Wyoming.
Nick’s motivation has just as much to do with artistic freedom as it does sustainability. His desire to make large-scale works of art helped lead him to construct an isolated cabin on an expansive landscape.
How long has this project been going on? What motivated you to look for land in Eastern Wyoming?
I bought the land and started building the cabin five years ago. It was never supposed to be an investment, I just wanted a place far away from suburbia and building codes so I could do and build whatever I wanted.
What has been the most challenging about this project?
The recession has made buying building materials and traveling out there tough. My first idea was to salvage most of the building materials but now everyone is holding on to materials that they used to be giving away (or paying someone to haul away).
Water has been the second biggest challenge. Drilling a well can cost up to $30,000 with no guarantee of hitting water. One of my next projects is to add a roof catchment to the cabin.
What has been the most inspiring?
To see and feel an idea become three dimensional to think about something and have it materialize has been the most gratifying. It’s more than just making a picture and hanging it from your wall but It’s a cabin and you live in, sleep in, and watch wildlife from.
What types of self sufficiency skills do you primarily practice?
Building, construction, welding, and blacksmithing. I want to incorporate hunting and water catchment soon. I started building the cabin without a lot of technical construction skills but learned along the way.
It has been challenging when I see my own limitations but my lack of experience actually helped me think more unconventionally and come up with my own solutions that were usually cheaper and more effective, such as using OSB (a type of particle board) for the interior instead of the conventional sheet rock or using exterior paint on the interior. These have been simple solutions to problems using simple unconventional thinking.
What skills do you most want to learn?
Hunting and animal processing. Shoot it. Skin it. Eat it. Love it.
What is your long-term vision for your Wyoming Homestead?
Next I will be building a workshop so I can have my welding and blacksmithing there. Living in a city like Portland and having a limited space is hard when your ideas are of a grand scale and you can’t hang them on the wall but you really need space to make them work.
I don’t want it to be a spectacle but one day I would like to have big artistic creations that will be sort of a landmark attract people to the area.
Any closing thoughts?
Having this homestead constantly reminds me and drives me to live out my ideas because now its there and I have no more excuses not to follow through with my ideas. I built it, it’s there, and it’s a good inspirational thing to have in one’s life.