"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
-Henry David Thoreau
The eclectic town of Ely "draws the most extreme types of people," Dayna Mase explains. Some people think it's quite boring but most want the peace and quiet, to be away from people and one with nature. This is the underlying theme to many residents of Ely and like much of Minnesota, the people of Ely live here for a reason. It's a place unlike any other on earth that draws the heart and soul of people to stay and live out their days.
The story is the same for the journey of Eric Mase. He recalls watching the Hamm's beer commercials and knew that someday he'd be destined to live in the "land of sky blue waters." Later, as a young adult, he was living in the hustle and bustle of Chicago city life; a self-taught birch bark canoe maker whose canoes are still found in galleries and collections around the country. It was one Chicago gallery owner who encouraged Eric to visit Ely. He did. And at age 38 he never left.
A few years later, Dayna quit her corporate job in Minneapolis, sold her house and possessions, and moved to Ely, not knowing anyone. She was renting near Eric's house and they first talked at the waters edge where she was swimming and he was fishing. Dayna was quickly drawn to the beauty of his canoes and the man who made them. Nine months later they were married in Scotland, in the county where Eric's ancestors were from.
"He's never danced the regular dance of life. He's an artistic builder. He took all of his artistic parts and the mathematical parts and taught himself to build." Eric would build his first WEE CABIN, a 10'x15' charmer with a sleeping loft which he named the "Thoreau." Exquisite in rustic detail, it has a cozy feel and is instantly welcoming. No detail is spared in this living art. Natural light abounds through the windows, a small wood burning stove dons one corner, while an Eric-made birch bark "kitchenette" with sink dons the opposite corner. A cozy cot and seating is available as well as a murphy table for dining. The base of the walls are made of wood plugs and cement for a truly unique look and feel.
Today, Eric still builds his stunning birch bark canoes in the off season, but focuses primarily on designing and building for the WEE CABIN Company while Dayna runs the business side of things. To date, the WEE CABIN Company has built over 20 handcrafted structures. Playfully named designs include the WEE CABIN House, WEE CABIN Treehouse (the Mase's gorgeous future full time residence), The Look Out WEE, Gingerbread WEE, Thoreau WEE, WEE Sauna, WEE Shed and the WEE-WEE Outhouse. Their building model is pretty unique: order several structures and create your own "WEE Hamlet."
You can pick from these or have a structure custom built to your own size specifications. Designed by Eric, each structure is constructed using time-honored techniques and both modern and traditional materials. "We pride ourselves in making minimal impact to the environment and building rustic, yet energy-efficient structures that are not only charming, but will last for generations."
WEE cabins average about $150-300/sq.ft. depending on size and materials. The most common size ordered is 14'x20'with sleeping loft. All WEE's can be wired with electricity and, if size allows, plumbing can be added, giving owners modern amenities in an upscale, rustic environment. The WEE CABIN Company currently builds within a 45 mile radius of Ely but are able to ship their frames to other locations, to be erected on site and filled in by a local contractor.
These unique structures are more than a place to spend a weekend. They are buildings of art made for a lifestyle of peace and solitude in the woods, and located in an area that continues to be a place of inspiration for so many people.
Find out more at www.weecabins.com or by contacting [email protected]