Isolated Moments – The Unsound House

The next in our Isolated Moments series, aiming to keep spirits buoyed and creativity alive during COVID-19 global social isolating and quarantining measures, comes from Sarah Gillett, an artist who investigates the life of things across space and time. Sarah is currently working with Fermynwoods throughout our new two-year programme.

The inspiration for this work came in winter, looking sideways across a frozen lake. The sky was lumpy and white as a mouthful of marshmallows; later it would snow. The lake was another white, pitted by raindrops and the three cornered arrows of geese feet. Mallards waddled down the dark banks of the lake. A swan shuffled through the brittle reeds. The moors were grey and white, lichen covered dry stone walls topped with hard hats of snow. Sheep, yellow white, moved slowly. The ice lay on the lake in large, overlapping slabs. And all the trees, black wet and dripping icicles, jangled in the wind. I thought about the black water and the white sky and all the things that lived in and amongst and between the vastness.

At this, another time of strangeness, I am making The Unsound House freely available through Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. By placing it inside your home I hope that it will in some way provoke creative discussions about our place in the world and our relationship to the outdoors.

To make your own Unsound House just print out the diagram here and follow the instructions below.

I’d love to see your Unsound Houses – please do share them on Instagram with the hashtag #theunsoundhouse and tag me @inkystudio and @fermynwoods

Hmm, you don’t have a printer?
That’s OK, you can still make an Unsound House!

You will need:

  • The Unsound House diagram on a computer screen
  • A sheet of paper or thin card
  • A biro
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape or Blu Tack
  • Pritt Stick or other paper glue
  • A cereal box with its clear plastic bag

Stage 1 – Making your Unsound House

  1. Make your screen as bright as possible – we’re going to use it as a light box to trace the Unsound House diagram.
  1. Hold your paper up to the screen. If you can see the diagram behind, then tape the paper along its edges in a couple of places so it is flat against the screen.
  1. If you can’t see through your paper, then unfold the plastic bag from your cereal box and use this against the screen. Tape it in the same way.
  1. Use your biro to trace the Unsound House. It’s worth taking your time over this to be as accurate as possible, but if your lines are wonky, don’t worry. We can tidy them up later, or you can leave them as they are – it is an Unsound House after all!
  1. As you are tracing, pay attention to the fold lines that are marked, and the slit for the chimney. It’s up to you how much of the details you want to copy.
  1. Once you have traced the diagram, the next step depends on whether you used your paper or the plastic cereal bag. If you used a sheet of paper, go to step 11.
  1. We’re going to use your cereal bag drawing as our master template, so this is an important step. Your drawing might be a bit wiggly from tracing off the screen. If you have a thicker pen you might want to use it to tidy up your lines. You can use the edge of the cereal box as a ruler to straighten the outline – check the original diagram if you’re not sure about the lines. Make sure you end up with a drawing that is nice and black.
  1. Go to a window (ideally one that is nice and bright – you might have to time this in your day to catch the sun) and tape the plastic cereal bag to it. We’re using the window as a lightbox.
  1. Place your sheet of paper over it. Can you see through it to draw the Unsound House? If the answer is yes, then tape your paper to the window and go ahead. Be as careful as you can and then go to step 11.
  1. If you can’t see through your paper then cut out the drawing on the plastic cereal bag. Place your cut out onto your sheet of paper and draw around it carefully. Once you have done this, tidy up the lines, and draw in the fold lines and other details (remember the slit for the chimney). You want the drawing to be as accurate as possible. Go to step 11.
  1. Again, your drawing might be a bit wiggly. Use the edge of the cereal box as a ruler to straighten lines. You want the drawing to be as accurate as possible so that it fits together well.
  1. Now it’s time to decorate your Unsound House. You may decide to stay true to the original design but there are many possibilities. You may want to put doors and windows in different places. You could use felt tip pens, crayons, pencils, and even use real textures by holding your paper against a brick wall or wooden floor and using a soft pencil to make a rubbing. You may want to use lots of different colours and patterns, or just one. It’s entirely up to you.
  1. Once you are happy with the look of your Unsound House, cut it out. Be careful when cutting the chimney slit.
  1. Look at the roof and the folds. At the two short edges fold one cm underneath the roof and glue. Keep the flaps clear.
  1. Fold all your flaps and fold your walls into a box. Glue the flap to the inside of the house.
  1. Glue the roof flaps to the inside of the house – one side has room for the chimney.
  1. Slide the chimney through the slot.
  1. You’ve done it! You have made your Unsound House.
  1. Depending on how you’re feeling, you can carry on and make your Unsound House into a pop-up… otherwise, place your Unsound House wherever you want and enjoy.
  1. I’d love to see your Unsound Houses – please do share them on Instagram with the hashtag #theunsoundhouse and tag me @inkystudio and @fermynwoods.
The Unsound House pop-up - Sarah Gillett

Stage 2 – The Pop-Up

  1. Take your cereal box and cut out a shape – it can be rectangular but it doesn’t have to be. It needs to be big enough to stand your Unsound House in it with plenty of room on either side.
  1. Fold your card in half and then unfold it flat again.
  1. Fold out the flaps on the bottom of your Unsound House and line up the roof ridge fold with the fold line on the card. You want to be as accurate as possible.
  1. Mark the position of where the flaps meet the house. This is where we’re going to make slits to tuck the flaps underneath and attach the house to the card.
  1. You’ll now have two lines which you need to score carefully.
  1. At this stage you might want to stop and design the landscape that you are building your Unsound House in. You may want to make the other side of the card look entirely different so that it’s a surprise when we open it up…
  1. Once you’re ready, push the flaps through the slits and glue. Let the glue dry.
  1. The final step is to fold the card carefully together. Try to coax the two ends of your Unsound House to fold outwards rather than inwards. Carefully fold the card and press down hard. When you open it back up, there is your house!
  1. As before, I’d love to see your Unsound Houses – please do share them on Instagram with the hashtag #theunsoundhouse and tag me @inkystudio and @fermynwoods.

© Sarah Gillett

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more Isolated Moments, and stay safe.