The busy summer weeks are flying by, as we fill orders and work on urgent repairs.  We hope you all had a good holiday weekend!

Fireworks over an event - tents and photo provided by Sperry Tents Virginia.

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TGIF Photo Post

This is a small model of a future project.

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Haiti SoftHouse Update

This rolling welder joins two panels of a Haiti SoftHouse together.

This rolling welder joins two panels of a SoftHouse together.

The loft floor was a sea of green for a couple of weeks, with many piles of softhouse walls in various stages of completion.  For a project like this, we  work in assembly line mode, with  every person in charge of a different stage of production.  From cutting to welding to door, window, and wall production, there were logistic and efficiency experiments at every turn.  About halfway through the SoftHouse production process, we really got the hang of assembling them and the whole process picked up quite a bit.

The hardware and glass skylight plates will be packaged separately.


The soft parts of the SoftHouses are now ready for shipping, and await their frames and accessories.  Each softhouse is bagged

individually and includes:

1 wall with door

2 walls with windows

3 solid walls



These SoftHouses are a truly practical and well thought-out design.  The space that results from these few parts is welcoming and spacious.  The high ceiling will allow for bunked or raised beds to increase floor and storage space.  Once anchored, each SoftHouse will be a sturdy little unit, clinging to the earth faithfully despite the weather.

Señor Oscar the dog inspects the Haiti SoftHouse.

Oscar inspects the softness of the Haiti SoftHouse and finds it quite pleasant.

The cross-breeze through the windows will be pleasant, and the skylight vent is ingenious – allowing light in, while simultaneously allowing hot air or fire-smoke to exit.  A sturdy door with a lock on the inside adds security and comfort, and the UV resistant thread will lengthen the expected lifespan of each House.

Although we will be shipping the SoftHouses very soon, we do not have a firm estimate about their arrival.  We are crossing our collective fingers that the flow of packages through customs has improved since our last shipment to Haiti last year.


Another exciting option for the SoftHouses can be found on the SoftHouse Haiti facebook, in diagrams for solar powered accessories.  We’ll be finding out more about the plans for the SoftHouses in the coming weeks, and hopefully receiving some feedback about them from residents.  We look forward to them arriving and becoming helpful homes, after so much planning.


We’ve been so busy this week, we’ve hardly had time to schedule meals!

On the plus side, that means that we’ve gotten all of our work done.  More photos next week, when the cameras have been wrangled.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

TGIF photo post

The solar panels are doing their part and loving the summery weather!

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TGIF Photo Post – What’s on the Floor this week?

The tension cables for the Williams College commencement awning.

The Williams College awning is our largest tension awning yet. The cables provide support throughout the 80' length.

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Project Spotlight: The Baldwin Awning

Our latest custom awning is the first we have ever made in this particular style.  It is a tension awning, which most often means that the tension between cloth, posts, and non-intrusive anchors on a home’s walls keep the awning aloft, requiring minimal framing.  This awning has no vertical posts, taking the minimalist look of a tension awning one step further.  The supportive tension is derived from the spars and cables, allowing the awning to hover, seemingly weightless, in the air.

The spars and cables all are supported by one vertical structure; in this case a welded bronze support plaque fits tightly to the side of the house.  We welded the bronze support plaque here in our metal shop, while the turnbuckles and cables are traditionally nautical rigging. Powder-coated aluminum plates protect and reinforce each cloth corner, meeting with turnbuckles for easily customizable tension.

The spars themselves are reclaimed spruce from old mill buildings.  After cutting them down to the correct dimensions and geometry, Don sanded and varnished the spars so that the wood will be fully protected from the elements.

A variety of carefully planned hardware will keep this awning secure.

Installation is, as always, an important part of every Sperry commission.

This awning is made of Sunbrella®, one of our favorite weather-resistant materials to work with.

Now that we have the shop space and materials to fabricate most of the parts for this style of awning, we plan on making many more of them in the future.  The design is modern, elegant, and unintrusive.  While the spars are sturdy and very supportive, they are also easy to store and will not take up a great deal of space – making this an excellent seasonal awning.  The entire structure will fold up into a condensed package with no cumbersome and inflexible framework.

If you are interested in learning more about this awning and more, please feel free to contact us.  To request a quote, you can now  visit the Request A Quote page on our website, and we will be in touch as soon as humanly possible.

Project Spotlight: The Awning at Red Inn

A popular photo of The Red Inn, available as a print from the Provincetown Fine Art Prints Gallery.

The Red Inn, in Provincetown, MA was built in 1805 and has been welcoming guests since 1915.  The Inn is located directly on the shore of the Provincetown Harbor – so close that the beach out front is only available at mid to low tides.  At high tide, stairs from the porch provide instant access to the ocean.



In preparation for the coming season, the staff of the Red Inn commissioned an awning to cover the long narrow stretch of porch that faces the ocean.  This will protect guests from the potentially-harmful rays of the sun, while also providing shelter on rainy days.





The awning at the Red Inn in Provincetown, MA.



The awning is built from our elegant and practical tent cloth, with reinforcing patches in each corner.  Don shaped the supporting posts in our wood shop downstairs using Douglas Fir, a wood that is very strong and has excellent elasticity, making it ideal for an oceanfront structure that will experience summer storms and the strong afternoon breezes common to this area.

The Red Inn awning posts.




Don finished the posts with Linseed oil, which penetrates the layers of wood and then hardens, providing internal protection from the elements.  This subtle finish was selected to provide good water-resistance, and because it is lower maintenance than a fully varnished surface.  The bottom edges of the posts clear the surface of the water by a small margin at high tide, but they will certainly come in contact with sea spray and exuberant waves.  Side walls similar to the ones used with Sperry Tents will protect against wayward breezes, while still allowing a clear view of the harbor.



The Awning at the Red Inn in Provincetown, MA

The awning will serve its purpose well this summer, contributing to a calm outdoor space at The Red Inn.  To commission your own outdoor structure, please give us a call at 774.849.3505 or e-mail us at

Haiti SoftHouse

Last year, we worked with Domes for Haiti and built ten domes for donation to Haitian orphanages.  We found that working on structures that were really needed was very motivational and rewarding. Now almost exactly a year later, we have begun construction on a series of softhouses, in collaboration with Haiti SoftHouse.

The softhouses, a series of transitional shelters, have been designed to stand up through tropical storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes.  They will provide a healthy environment with good air circulation.  Each single unit stands alone as an independent home, but they can also be combined to create a larger structure.  With high ceilings and a tall door, the 166 square foot interior of the softhouses will have a spacious and welcoming atmosphere.

The frames are constructed from galvanized steel pipe, which we have been cutting and bending in preparation.  The press we generally use to apply large grommets to tent corners has been altered easily to flatten pipe ends, allowing them to fit together well. Once built, the frames can be grounded directly into the earth using earth anchors, or secured to a poured cement platform.

The press is quite effective in flattening pipe ends.

The cloth will be a cheery 17 oz. lime green vinyl with orange doors – the same cloth that has been used in the colorful softhouse prototypes.  Vinyl is long-lasting and water-proof, providing flexible protection from the elements.

Right now we are waiting on a large order of lime green cloth, and weather that will allow the pipes to be cut outside.  With all those sparks flying, it’s really an outdoor sort of job.


In preparation for constructing many of these structures, Xan has built our preliminary SoftHouse.  The first softhouse is made out of our tent cloth rather than vinyl, which will give us a prototype to alter and tweak without using up any of the vinyl supply.  Once completed it will remain here, a 3-dimensional model of softhouse construction that will act as an example if we are to build more after this first batch.

To learn more about Haiti SoftHouse, follow these links:

The 66 Series of Sperry Tents

The four peaks of a 66' x 66' tent.This week we are building a 66’x66′ tent – the smallest of our 66 Series tents. This is only the third 66’x66′ size tent we have built. To make sure the finished product is up to our standards, we keep labeled diagrams for each tent size with patch locations and detailed instructions.

A small scale model for the 66 x 66 tent.


As we do for all of our new tents, we first inspected the 66’x66′ as a small model. These to-scale models are carefully set up with gear built to match. Among other things, we test the models for water shedding ability, proper angles, and structural concerns.


Due to their large size, we use extra reinforcing elements in the centers of 66 series tents. This extra webbing is very important because the tenting crews use extra force in pulling these tents taut.  The extra leverage prevents the four (or more) center poles from leaning towards each other.

The 66′ tents are ideal for venues with wide outdoor spaces. We have determined the maximum number of people that the tents can hold for three different types of events. Events with dining and dancing reserve space for a full dance floor, table seating, and a stage for live music. The other options are dining only with table seating and cocktails or a ceremony, at which most people will be standing for the duration. The allowances for these three types of events – dining and dancing / dining only / cocktails or ceremony – are:

66’x66′: 220 / 260 / 490
66’x86′: 290 / 350 / 650
66’x106′: 360 / 440 / 820
66’x126′: 440 / 520 / 980
The 66' x 126' tent on the beach in Florida.

Since the first 66 Series tent was built last summer, their popularity has grown with licensed territories and customers alike.  A wider rectangle is often ideal for event planning and organization, and these tents provide spacious measurements with signature Sperry elegance.  If you are considering a tent like this for any event, call your local Sperry Tents for availability.  And if you are looking to buy one, please feel free to give us a call any time.