Friday, August 25, 2006

Construction Halts for Birth

We've been busily filling in the bales with cob and
light-clay but had to take a break for the dove who has nested at the top of the wall.

As you can see by the photo, there is quite a bit of room between the top of the bales and the roof plate on this end (west). This is all to be filled with light-clay.

The rest of the pictures show the filling we've done. I probably didn't need to do that much in some places but I get carried away and it will just make it easier to plaster.

Same corner after light clay.............................................and before light clay.

The dove nest is to the left of the small window on top of the bales.

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's Winter in Australia

Here's another site I've been following for awhile: an adventure in sustainable building. The Cockburn/Wittmer family will be building in Tasmania. (How many of you flash on that whirling Looney Tunes character whenever you hear that word?) In the July post there is a graphic of their house plan.

LindaCockburn has written a book Living the Good Life, detailing the her family's experiences with suburban sustainability. Many people think you have to have 40 acres to live sustainably-not true. We can all do things to decrease our ecological footprint, it just takes a little planning. One family has practised this on a city lot in, of all places, Pasadena, California (flash on Rose Bowl parade-I am a visual person) since the mid-80s. Check out The Path to Freedom, but take your time, there is a lot to learn in those pages.

A Reading

Last night we attended Borderlands: A Reading of Prose and Poetry at our local coffee house, Javalinas. The authors who read both live in Civano. Simmons Buntin, is the author of Riverfall a book of poetry and Scott Calhoun wrote A Yard Full of Sun which details his family's experiences building and gardening in the desert Southwest. (check the Riverfall link to the left). It made for an enjoyable evening-what was truly great was seeing the wide range of ages who came out to enjoy the reading.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You can now receive an RSS feed of this blog. I know I was spending a fair amount of time checking for updates on blogs I like to follow. So, just click the orange icon and you can subscribe!

I've also added a link to another Strawbale Owner Builder, this one in Canada, Stonehouse Straw House. This will allow you to see a project in 2 very different climes. The Stonehouses are having a wall-raising soon, so if you are in that area you might want to check it out. The site pictures are beautiful!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

Mud! Mud! Glorious mud!
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.
So, follow me, follow, down to the hollow,
And there let us wallow in glorious mud.

~Swann & Flanders

The clay arrived! Now I can get to some serious work. The walls need to have some holes filled and be evened a bit and for this I will use cob. The recipe for cob is simple and very flexible. Sort of like making bread, a lot of it is done by "feel". I will lay a tarp (like the blue one in the picture) over 4 bales arranged in a square to make a well in the center. This will be the "mixing bowl"; to that I will add clay, sand and some chopped straw sifted through a screen. This will then be mixed to incorporate the ingredients throughout. Then add water, take off my shoes and "
dance like no one is watching"!
Cob has been used to create shelter for centuries in many cultures. Two great books: Built by Hand and Home Work, have beautiful examples of people creating their own shelter from what they find around them. These range from the simplest mud hut to intricately embellished castles.

Speaking of embellishment-I'm going to the
Artistry in Clay and Lime workshop at Canelo the first week in October. Canelo is SE of Tucson in the hills. It's a bit cooler there and October will be beautiful. I'm so excited-I've wanted to do this for a couple of years and it's finally going to work out! The plaster work at Canelo is beautiful beyond description. I will come home chock full of ideas-but we only have a few walls, hmmmm maybe we could build...

These are 2 shots of the doors in place. These were taken on August 6 at approximately 10am and as you can see, the sun falls about 3 feet up on the south wall. Inside, the sun only hits about 6 inches inside the wall. Even with all the openings (front door not in, utility closet not closed in, the inside temperature is very comfortable.

This is the walkway going north, showing all the green after our summer rains.