Setting up a Yurt at school this morning.

I got to help Minnesota artist Mary Johnson and her son set up a yurt at Fairview Elementary school this morning. What a fun and exciting learning experience for me!

Here are some photos of the process. Sorry I didn't start taking photos right away. I was taking notes until Mary got me involved in the actual set up.
The first step was to screw the four black pieces of the door frame together.
Then the lattice side was stretched out and curved into a circle which was fitted into slots on each side of the door frame.
Above you can see Mary talking to the students about how the next step is to attach two ropes around the sides and snug them up with loops in the door frame. You can also see the 16 roof slats laying on the floor.
Here is a close up showing how the slats will fit into the metal hoop at the center of the roof. They will use the zip ties to secure the slats to the hoop.

Sorry for the blurry photos (taken with my brand new smartphone), but below you can see the roof slats and the ropes are installed.
Above you see the first covering attached to one side of the yurt. Mary and her son are about to attach the second covering. She used a fabric-covered tarp and took advantage of the rivets in the tarp for attaching the sides to the lattice framework (with zip ties again).  Notice the cute windows she incorporated into the sides.
Here Mary adjusts the roof piece.  It has a seam on one side which is also secured with zip ties. When the roof went on, someone exclaimed, "It looks like a cupcake!"  Mary has more embellishments to hang around the top, but she will be taking it down and setting it up again this afternoon at the high school.

Here some young visitors get a tour of the yurt.

Mary and the students who have been sketching the yurt pose for a photo.  Job well done! 

Thanks to Judy Broekemeier for inviting me to come and see how the yurt is set up. One of these days we hope to use wool, water, and kid power to create a felt covering for it.  And special thanks to Mary for coming up with the idea of creating a yurt  for tonight's collaborative performance of music, dance and recycled wearable art. Of course, thanks go to the East Central Regional Arts Council and the people of Minnesota for the grant funds that helped to make this project happen.

Oh-oh, on my way home from school, my road was like a skating rink. The radio has just announced that school is letting out early today and the performance tonight has been cancelled. I hope they will reschedule it.


  1. This is incredible.....Never heard of a Yurt, now I can be all fancy pantcy and pass along the information during polite dinner conversation. Loved the lesson, thank you.

  2. You're welcome Kelly. I've wanted to make a yurt (with felted wool) for the past couple years, so this was a great opportunity for me. Hmmm, I wonder how often the subject of yurts comes up in polite dinner conversation? ;-)

  3. I remember the picture of the roll of wool being attached to the back end of a camel to work on the felting process. Will you do it that way? Maybe the sheep could pull it around!! Neat experience!

  4. Love it - any idea of where they got their frame/top piece? Making the sidewalls with our abundance of fiber here would be a hoot but it would be a lot easier if we could just purchase the foundational parts.

  5. Deb, Mary said she got the directions online and her husband made the lattice sides. I think they may have welded the metal top piece themselves. The larger metal ring had a welded seam that was helpful in counting out the roof slats which were all numbered. The small top ring had 16 loops welded on, and the larger bottom ring only had 8 loops (to allow for variations in spacing when setting it up). There was a notch about 4" from the end of each roof slat so it could rest in the "V" at the top of the lattice side. They drilled holes in the roof slats near the connecting places. Very cool.

  6. What a fun day, Becky! The kids will never forget it.


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