I had heard about “Jon from Woodstock” for many moons. He was a mythical figure who would descend on our sample sale and buy whatever crazy things I had made, from fabric covered bicycle rickshaws to huge walls of patched fabric. When we had something out of the ordinary, his name was muttered immediately, and I found out he was building a Shangri La Barn House / Rock & Roll compose-a-record-in-seclusion sanctuary in Woodstock.
How did you find out about John Robshaw Textiles?
Summertime, 2012, I was living in the Garment District. Walking home I turned onto 29th Street and a long line of good looking, stylish people stretched down the block. I asked someone what was going on, and got in line when told it was a sample sale.
I was headed in my VW Camper to Bonnaroo the next day. I bought a few tarps John had used while print making. They had the perfect vibe. I'm sitting on one of those Robshaw Tarps on the beach writing this right now. Radiohead played a great set, but 8 years later that’s only a memory.
What’s your favorite thing about John’s fabrics?
His signature fabrics seem to have their own language. John’s fabrics are a fail-safe for me.
From curtains to coasters, every property is entirely distinct from the next, but each is full-on Robshaw.
How did you come to work on this project?
This house started as a trade. A worker who helped on another house with me wanted a chain link fence for his hunting dogs. He was a metal scrapper and had paper on an old dairy barn, meaning he could take the barn’s contents. The roof on the barn was compromised and the owner didn’t want to pay to fix it or continue to pay insurance for it, so he gave the man the barn, and he traded it to me for the fence. Voilà.
The barn frame is hand-hewn hemlock and over 150 years old. We labeled the posts and beams, disassembled the barn and moved it from Gilboa, NY, which is about 30 miles from Woodstock. The barn sat stickered in piles under tarps for 7 years while I looked for the right land to build... and financing.
Have you hit any bumps along the way?
It’s been a long road. One of the weirdest things that happened was when we were fixing a ceiling at another house in Zena, Woodstock. We opened the ceiling and discovered the rafters were old tree limbs, and one was completely COVERED with black ants. The rafter was loose, so I thought I could pull the whole thing out to throw outside. I couldn’t free the rafter but ants started to pour down like water; It was an 8 foot ant stream that hit the floor with an expanding aqueous ant puddle. It all swept-up in less than 30 minutes but it was quite a horror.
What would you say you’re most proud of about your home?
I’m proud that all 3 Woodstock homes of mine were created from tear-down buildings and reclaimed and discarded materials; I’m proud of the salvaged stained glass and the visual details in the old wood. For instance, I pulled 200 year old barn siding that had been eaten through by insects leaving 1/2 inch holes randomly scattered. It looks like cartoon buckshot. I used it for the paneling in the pool cabana‘s kitchen and backlit the wood; At night, it’s a star-wall.
Any advice for someone looking to do what you’re doing?
Consider a kit house.