Dan Price, author and illustrator of Moonlight Chronicles, was featured in Lloyd Kahn’s 2004 book, Home Work. Dan’s Oregon underground hobbit hole has since been complemented with the addition of this underground office.
After spending several years printing, assembling and mailing my zine Moonlight Chronicles in various locations away from my beloved hobbit hole, I finally decided to build a studio where I could do it all in one small space. That summer I had ran across several bunks of 4×4 small-diameter lumber rotting away up at the local high school. It was free if I removed it in a timely fashion, which I did. After three weeks of picking and shoveling in the concrete-like riverbank I had a level space to begin building.
Laying no foundation I simply laid down heavy plastic and built a floor. On the edges of the floor I began stacking the 4×4’s, drilling and nailing each one with long ring-shank nails. Once the right height was gained, I nailed on a flat roof using the last of the 4×4’s. (I would not recommend a flat roof as it leaked and had to be mega-sealed with expensive roof sealant.)
The entire outside was then painted with a heavy layer of tar to prevent rotting and to keep the carpenter ants from eating it all. (The ants have had their way with it regardless.) At this point I covered the structure with several heavy sheets of black plastic. Then I gathered all the river rock I had collected over the years, and without any mortar, stacked them against the walls. Between the plastic and rock I tamped dirt to fill the spaces. (I am against the use of anything as permanent as concrete.)
A heavy-duty skylight was built with thick Plexiglas. A heavy door was built on one end. (Please weld your hinge pins to the hinges as several years before robbers pulled mine out and walked away with $5000 of my valuables!) The dirt that I dug out was then piled on top for insulation and covered with grass seed. I later learned that 3-inch rigid insulation equals several feet of soil. Wish I had added that to the roof before covering it.
Electricity was brought in thru a small hole drilled in the south wall for my new copy machine that printed the Chronicles. A long tall table was built along one wall from driftwood for magazine collation and stapling. No paint or stain was used on the interior.
This simple 6×12 studio cost approximately $200 and has served me well for many years. Only annual cost is traps for those pesky ants!