Albie’s Corner

Heikki Hyytiainen Comes to Wild Acres

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heikki HyytiainenOur old friend of over thirty years, Heikki Hyytiainen, came to Wild Acres this year in Little Switzerland as a speaker and presenter at the annual Masonry Heater Association retreat. Heikki was our first significant contact in Europe who graciously introduced Doug Wood and Albie Barden to the world of Finnish Contraflow heaters in the winter of 1979. In the spring of 1979, ...

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The Story of Sampsa’s Soapstone Heater

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sampsaWhen Sampsa first contacted me about building a masonry heater in a hands-on workshop, he already had drawings for a custom-made soapstone fireplace with an adjacent oven designed by Tulikivi in Finland. Working off these drawings and measures from Sampsa of available brick and firebrick near his home in New Zealand, I started to do scale drawings of a similar layout to the soapstone complex, ...

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A Unique Home Heat Exchanger

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In America, the first wood heating devices in the historic era were large open fireplaces. To this were added wood fired ovens, some on the back wall of the fireplace and some to the side of the fireplace. In the middle to late eighteen hundreds cast iron cookstoves were invented. The classic six-lid cookstove could have one or both lids plus the divider over the firebox removed and stepped cast iron pots and griddles could be placed tightly but directly ...

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Masonry Heater Firebox Design

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One of the great masonry heater designers and researchers of the mid twentieth century was a Finnish researcher named Asp. When I (Albie) began my journeys to Finland in the late seventies, my Helsinki, Finland friend, Heikki Hyytiainen, made mention of Asp’s work and we were able to find one of his books in Finnish which I now have. Among other things, Asp did a lot of work with the introduction of what masonry heater and stove designers have often called ...

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New Zealand Masonry Heater Workshop: Panorama Door

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eco design award houseSampsa Kiuru decided to install a Finnish masonry heater in his national eco design award winning home in New Zealand. Four features set Sampsa’s heater apart from other heaters that we commonly build, although all of our masonry heaters by Maine Wood Heat tend to be special and custom made.

First, he chose for his heater a large beautiful cast ...

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Mãui and the Goddess of Fire

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Every indigenous culture has its origin and fire legends. At the Auckland, N.Z. museum, I caught a glimpse of the Maori fire legends in a tape loop being shown there. A native speaker explains that in Maori legend fire is a gift of the sun.

mountains of new zealand

The sun sent a fiery comet crashing to the earth. The comet married the Earth Goddess of ...

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Rich History and Heaters of North Haven Island

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Albie is completing a brick cookstove and see-through masonry heater on North Haven Island, twelve miles off of Rockland, Maine, just before he leaves for New Zealand to build a heater there. The job site is on the Turner Farm which overlooks the “thoroughfare” between North Haven and Vinalhaven Islands.

The “thoroughfare” is only a few hundred yards wide. Famous archeological digs at the Turner Farm site indicate, that like the ancient village of Norridgewock, the site seems to ...

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Spruce is the keeper of the Spark…Tinder Fungus is the Keeper of the Fire

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One day after posting the Woodchuck Firekeeper blog, I knew I had to find an answer to the birch tinder fungus question and mystery, so on a Blue Moon, the day before New Year’s Eve, I called my friend Ray Reitze who has taught wilderness ways and skills at the Earthways School of Wilderness Living for decades. Ray lives with his wife Nancy in a handmade, off the grid, wood heated log cabin “hogan” in Canaan, ...

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Woodchuck Firekeeper

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Donna Lee, at the end of each round of the Sweat Lodge, would cry out, “Firekeeper, Open the Door Please.” And the outside person, the man or woman entrusted for the evening with the sacred tasks of carrying rocks, keeping the fire hot and all matters of protection and ceremony outside the lodge, would throw open the flap and all the sweat covered participants inside would gulp in huge amounts of the cooling fresh air.

The Sweat Lodge is a sacred ...

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Setting up Shop in New Zealand

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New Zealand is on the other side and “bottom” of the world relative to Finland, but there is still a winter season and measurable cold even though their February can be considered our “August.”

Sampsa Kiru, a native Finn, is a young doctor in Queenstown, New Zealand, in the middle of building an energy efficient house. Sampsa wants a Finnish Fireplace in his home. He wants the same incredible efficiency and warmth of the masonry heaters that he knew as a ...

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