Roof Wrestling

Today is roof assembly day, and I, Jen, will be wrestling with some serious silicone-coated goodness. Last week I put together some panels, attaching two triangular pieces to form a bigger triangle, then putting the  flaps that enable connection to the structure and the sidewalls. And now I’m ready to put it all together into the behemoth that will keep someone dry and cozy.
Something that always strikes me when working on something this size is the balance of simply wrestling these big pieces (they are around 9 ft long) under the machine while holding them precisely beside one another with the right amount of tension on the top and bottom pieces to be sure that they match up exactly, and that the seam is the right width the whole way. Kind of a micro and macro vision at the same time. So I start with just two pieces, lining them up under the needle and stitching them together.  Then I run the same seam through the machine again, this time adding a piece of webbing (that is kindly folded for me by a lovely device attached to the machine) that will keep the seam from stretching too much. Then I add another section onto these two. And then another. And pretty soon this thing weighs around 50 lbs. I am still making sure that I maintain the micro-balance of the seam allowance and moving the rod through the machine smoothly.
After all the sections are attached to one another, I now have a cone-shaped monstrosity that I climb onto the table to shake into submission for the final step: adding the big grommets that will slide over some bolts that hold it onto the frame. This entails first adding a  piece of webbing onto the corner, then popping a hole in it with a size-specific cutter, then putting the grommet through that hole, pounding it liberally with a hammer, and voila! Corner grommet. Each of the seven corners gets this treatment (today’s roof is for a SeptaYome) and then I can get up on the table again, and have one final wrestling match that ends in a loosely bundled roof that is ready for final folding and seam sealing. And I’m off to my home for some supper!
Interior detail of roof insulation installed in a Yome home

My Roof Insulation

Hello, Yome Ponderers,

This is Jeremy again, here to share some of my experiences with the types of insulation we have available for our Yomes. Today I will discuss life with and without our roof insulation.

See, I have lived through five winters in the mountains of Western North Carolina in a Yome, and I have lived in them with no insulation, roof insulation only, roof and floor insulation, and finally with side wall insulation. I feel like I can give an honest assessment. We want our customers to have realistic expectations and be happy with their product. Read more

The History of Tensile Architecture

There are two forces that act on structures; compression and tension. Most buildings today are predominantly compression structures. Blocks or bricks are piled on top of one another to form walls, or else wood or metal are used to create frames for rigid materials to hang from and sit on top of. There is another […]

The New UltraYome “Corkscrew Launch” Method

This video animation is a preview of the launch technique for the new UltraYome that we are in the process of developing. We call it the “Corkscrew Launch” method. By incorporating the mechanical advantage of a series of four roped pulley-ratchet assemblies, it is possible for a single person to launch the Yome. The pulley assemblies are each pulled a bit, one at a time, causing the frame to twist up into place like a corkscrew.

Living in a Yome

Hey, folks, this is Jeremy. I’m a Red Sky Shelters employee chiefly responsible for the woodwork and metalwork that makes up the frame of the Yome, and I’ve been living in a Septayome for nearly five years. I’ll be sharing experiences and tips that relate to Yome living here from time to time.

One thing about living in a Yome, as you can imagine, is feeling closer and more in touch with the cycles of nature. The daylight comes through the glowing walls and keeps me more aware of the sunrise and sunset. I have a lot of windows, five, which allow me a full view of the surroundings around my home. I open and close them for all kinds of different reasons and moods, but what I really love is being inside, snug and dry, with all the windows open with their panes attached. The extra daylight in the Winter is a godsend to me, and helps keep me happy. A hot mug of tea and a comfortable chair, surrounded by the sight of new snow or the green of Spring make me feel very blessed indeed.

Architectural Membrane Materials

The types of materials flexible and strong enough for architectural tensile membrane purposes are woven fabrics and foils. Woven fabrics consist of two set of yarns (warp and weft) woven together in a loom. Foils, on the other hand, are made of thinly rolled or extruded homogeneous material. The most common woven fabrics suitable for architectural applications are fiberglass, the aramids, olefins, nylon, acrylic, cotton, and polyester. Read more

How Insulation Works

In order to understand this principle we must first take a look at heat transfer in general.

Heat and Temperature
      Heat is a measurement of the motion of the molecules that make up a substance, and represents the energy contained in the substance. In hot substances, the molecules are moving relatively quickly. We call something cold when the molecules are moving slower, but their motion is still called heat.

Temperature, on the other hand, is a measure of how something feels to us. An object that feels cold has a low heat content, but the object still contains heat.

Heat always moves from a warm object to a colder one. The important thing to remember is that cold isn’t transferred, because cold is just a qualitative description of low heat. A warmer object may cool off, but that is because it is losing heat, not gaining cold. For example, there is no such thing as letting cold in, rather you are letting the heat out. Read more

Advantages of our Frontier 100% Hemp Sidewall Material

Much has been written about the sustainability and advantages of hemp as a crop and its many uses. Hemp fabric has a lot of advantages over other vegetable and synthetic fabrics. Here are a few:

-Hemp is the strongest vegetable fiber on the planet with up to three times the tensile strength of cotton. Hemp fabric is also very tear resistant. This is why historically hemp was used to make rope, sails, and flags.

-Hemp fiber is filled with minute air pockets that make it both thermally and acoustically insulating. This “spongy” quality also makes help very breathable.

-Hemp fabric can shield more than 95% of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

-With its high silica content, hemp is resistant to the damaging effects of insects and other pests.

-Like cotton and several other vegetable fibers, hemp has high heat-resistance, an advantage over synthetics.

There are those who claim that hemp is a highly evolved plant species. It has the ability to grow well in a variety of climates and soil types. Naturally pest resistant, it grows very tightly spaced and will out-compete any weeds, eliminating any need for herbicides. For these reasons, hemp has never been genetically modified (and hopefully never will).


A piece of PVC fabric used in some tent dwellings

What is PVC, and what’s wrong with it?

Red Sky Shelters is committed to offering materials that yield the best performance, durability and safety with the least environmental impact. Close to a decade ago we phased out the use of PVC-coated fabrics for our Yome coverings. This decision left us with very few options and we have had to pioneer and develop our own alternative materials. From our silicone Legacy roof fabric to our new Frontier 100% hemp sidewall fabric, we have developed a set of fabric options that are suitably durable and functional yet environmentally friendly.

What is PVC, and what’s wrong with it?

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as vinyl. It is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the worst products for the environment. Every step in the life cycle of PVC is riddled with serious environmental and health concerns. This is why Red Sky Shelters, unlike nearly every other portable shelter manufacturer, has eliminated the use of PVC-coated fabric in its products.

When PVC is produced, many of its basic constituents (including ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride) are released into the atmosphere. These are considered to be not only carcinogenic but also to cause liver, kidney and neurological damage. Workers in vinyl plants have become ill from exposure to these toxic compounds.

PVC manufacturing plants also create significant amounts of dioxins and PCBs, and these frequently leach into the groundwater. In fact, sediment samples taken downstream from these plants have shown dioxin concentrations equal to that of Agent Orange! See PVC Bad News in Threes and Polyvinyl Chloride.

Even more problems are created when PVC is used as a fabric coating. This is because PVC is normally a rigid substance. In order to make it flexible, plasticizers are added. Over time, these plasticizers leach to the surface and are released into the air. This is the off-gassing commonly recognized as the “vinyl odor” in shower curtains and children’s toys. Studies indicate that there are health concerns associated with these plasticizers as well. See Our Stolen Future.

It is possible to add a final coat to PVC-coated fabrics, sealing in the plasticizers. This is often done on exterior surfaces for added durability and cleanability. However, the interior surface is typically lacks this top coating, forcing the plasticizers to off-gas into the interior. This is a significant problem in living spaces. Sealing the interior surface helps, but this only addresses one of the many health and environmental problems associated with PVC.

Claims are made that PVC coated fabric can be recycled. However, trying to recycle it causes even more problems and requires more energy than what it would take to landfill it and make more from scratch. Should it be incinerated or burned, PVC releases several extremely toxic substances including dioxin.

Despite these drawbacks, other yurt and dome manufacturers use vinyl-coated fabric almost exclusively. And not only is the roof PVC: Though few manufacturers will call attention to it, the sidewalls are PVC-coated as well. Yurts and domes are considered “alternative” living structures, yet they are completely coated in one of the most ubiquitous and environmentally-destructive substances known. Note that when other manufactures call their fabric “resin-finished” or “acrylic top-coated,” they’re not admitting that these are only the top-coats and most of the material is PVC.

From production to consumption to disposal, vinyl raises serious health and environmental concerns. You can count on Red Sky Shelters to be aware of these concerns and always choose the best materials for your health and that of the planet.