Nick Olsen and Lilah Horwitz met at an artists’ residency in Pennsylvania. Both are artists of various mediums, though Olsen is primarily a photographer, while Horwitz designs on-site clothing lines with pieces that pertain to the city in which they were created. Shortly after meeting, perhaps even ‘on their first date’ Horwitz claims, Olsen took Horwitz to his family’s property in the mountains of West Virginia. This would also be the setting where, inspired by the spectacle of the slowly setting sun, the couple first imagined plans for a house wherein one was enshrouded with natural light – whether the intense burning of colors amidst the horizon or the gentle glows put off by the stars – unbroken by the erection of opaque walls.
Originally tied to summer jobs, the couple had an abrupt change of plans, opting instead to scourge the country for windows and build the cabin themselves, which they did whilst subsisting on a steady diet of rice and beans. The project proved to be daunting, but was possible in large part due to their artistic nature, enabling them to defy what may otherwise be physical or monetary limitations. While they did purchase a few of the windows new, a majority were well aged and not without a story; obtained from resale shops and even an abandoned barn. The barn also provided them with roofing material.
The couple estimates the cabin cost $500 in total to build. Beyond their thrifty choice of construction materials, each is quite resourceful in their own work. Horwitz make avant-garde articles by hand, using discarded and unconventional material. Originally taught to sow by her mother, who learned from her grandmother before her, she has been making her own clothes since high school. Olsen, meanwhile, takes his photos with a camera he made himself, specializing in tintypes.
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