Feeds:
Posts
Comments

We have a couple of natural building workshops planned for this May, during the peak of our beautiful North Carolina’s spring season!  I am especially excited that these workshops are being held at the site of our future home, in the rural town of Snow Camp, NC.  Greg has been building us a permitted straw bale home on our 11 acres, as well as creating some infrastructure to accommodate the beginnings of The Mud Dauber School of Natural Building, which will be sharing our 11 acre home space!

8612514962_414699d6f4_b

Greg and Mike will be teaching two workshops this May, one is a 7 day cob building intensive, and the other is a 9-day permitted straw bale workshop!  Here are the details:

7-Day Earthen Building Immersion:

May 4-10th

7-Day Earthen Building Immersion
May 4th-10th, 2014
$750
[20% off for full payment 90 days in advance, 10% off for 30 days in advance, 10% for family and friends participating together]
20-student maximum, to ensure a good instructor:student ratio.

Join us at the future site of the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building, in Central North Carolina, for a natural building immersion! Instructors Greg Allen and Mike McDonough will guide participants through the creation of a cob and strawbale cottage at the edge of a small pond. We will be harvesting clay from beneath our feet and grasses from around the pond, and mixing them with human power right on site! Strawbales from a local farmer will be built into the building as well.

You will learn all of the basics about mixing and applying cob. Strawbales will be integrated into a “balecob” hybrid wall system, which we will discuss the thermal benefits of. We will add a door and windows into the building, with accompanying carpentry experiences. The final days of the workshops will be dedicated to roofing the building with a living roof. Natural plastering opportunities (mixing and applying) will be available for those interested. Most of the week will be completely hands-on – this will be supplemented with sit-down discussions and presentations about foundations, siting a building, roofing options, building permits, and more.

9-Day Permitted Natural Home:

May 17th-25th

The 9-Day Permitted Natural Home
May 17th-25th, 2014
$1,000 [20% off for full payment 90 days in advance, 10% off for 30 days in advance, 10% for family and friends participating together]

Join us at the future site of the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building, in Central North Carolina, for a unique permitted natural building workshop. Instructors Greg Allen and Mike McDonough will guide participants through the creation of a stick-framed cottage, with strawbale and straw-clay walls, natural plaster finishes, and cob details. We will be building with rough-sawn lumber from a nearby sawmill, on-site clay, local strawbales, and as many salvaged materials as possible. The small building we construct will provide the necessary learning experience to go on and build your own permitted building of the size you want.

We will spend most of the week doing hands-on building, covering a mix of conventional and natural techniques: masonry foundation, carpentry, strawbale walls, cob mixing, plastering, roofing, and more. In addition to hands-on work, there will be plenty of time devoted to sit-down discussions and presentations. Each participant will receive a copy of the building permit application to take home as reference. There will be discussion about how to minimize the effect that your local codes/inspectors might have on your ideal natural design.

The building will have a concrete pier foundation, a wooden framework, and a metal roof. The walls will be insulated with straw, and the ceiling and floor with dense-pack cellulose. The finish floor will be earthen, and the walls and ceiling will be naturally plastered. There will be opportunities to sculpt cob into a window seat bench, around corners, and to create an arched doorway.

Some of the techniques you will have the opportunity to learn:
– plastering on bales, drywall (for ceiling), and cob
– framing a floor, walls, and roof
– pouring cement piers
– installing a metal roof
– building up strawbale infill walls (stacking, re-shaping, trimming)
– simple wiring
– installing windows and doors
– mixing natural plasters
– earthen floors (if we have time left)

*We will be focusing on the use of hand-tools for this workshop. Power tools will be used infrequently, and by instructors only. A handsaw can be as fast as a circular saw if it’s maintained and you practice!

Three meals a day will be provided, and will be mainly vegetarian, with a couple meat options throughout the week. Most any dietary restriction can be accommodated, and participants are welcome to bring their own snacks. Camping will be available on site, as well as toilet and shower facilities.

Both Greg and Mike graduated from the Cob Cottage Company’s apprenticeship program in 2008, and have teamed up to teach natural building skills on the east coast.

To sign up, or ask questions, e-mail Greg at muddauberschool@gmail.com, or call at 315-657-3980.

photo by Natalia Weedy

photo by Natalia Weedy

Greg and Mike are both apprentices of the Cob Cottage Company, and together have taught many natural building workshops here on the east coast.  Here are some lovely photos taken by one of the participants from last year’s springtime cob workshop, Natalia Weedy.  Natalia’s photographs capture what I love the most about cob…the satisfaction of working with one’s hands, the joy of creating something together as a community…

Cob2013_0226

Cob2013_0232Cob2013_0565 Cob2013_0291 Cob2013_0608 Cob2013_0517 Cob2013_0144 Cob2013_0909 Cob2013_0958 Cob2013_0876Cob2013_0936 Cob2013_0904 Cob2013_0996

We have been living in the cob house for almost two months already!  I don’t quite have the words to describe what it has been like for me to be back in this cozy space, with my family.  I love this house, and all its beauty and gentleness.  Being here brings me so much joy, and a centered feeling that comes partly from reconnecting with a place I poured so much of my energy into, and partly from the qualities of the house.  The curves of the cob walls, the texture of the plaster, the warmth of the wood.  These natural materials are just so comforting!

So far we have been comfortable in this little space.  The wood stove works well and heats up the house, although our winters here are fairly mild.  The earthen floor and cob are a lot of cold, cold thermal mass, though, and if we are gone for a couple of days then the house takes longer to warm up once we get a fire going.  I think the properties of cob are most appreciated here during the intensity of our endless summers, when the temperatures can become quite miserable.  Then the cool floors and walls are refreshing, but for now we wear slippers!

Some pictures of my cozy little hobbit house:

DSC_1003 DSC_1017 DSC_1077 DSC_0915IMG_0298 IMG_0300 IMG_0301 IMG_0444 IMG_0931 IMG_0938 IMG_0953 IMG_0954 IMG_0957

 

 

Greg has spent another week or so working on the cob house, and this week I have been in awe of just how fast he is!  It really is incredible.

Greg tiled the countertop around the sink, and finished the salvaged chestnut portion of the countertop, as well as the butcher block from the Habitat Re-store.  The three different countertop sections looks quite nice together.  I love the chestnut!

DSC_0247

chestnut

chestnut

finished!

finished!

DSC_0700Greg also started a portion of the outdoor countertop:

DSC_0365I can’t believe all the interior plaster is finished!  Greg did one coat of earthen plaster in a few spots, and then two coats of lime plaster.  I love how plaster changes a space so dramatically, clearing away all visual distractions, allowing the curves of the walls and window reveals to really be appreciated.  So beautiful.  The lime really brightened the space up significantly as well.

DSC_0390 DSC_0564

first coat of lime

first coat of lime

DSC_0595

finish coat

finish coat

DSC_0686 DSC_0719 DSC_0721 DSC_0723And the earthen floor!  Greg did a mix with the red clay in the “living room” and a mix with the yellowish clay in the kitchen.  Check out the shapes in the red clay floor!  These will later be grouted after the floor is dry and finished.

DSC_0744 DSC_0750 DSC_0772 DSC_0782 DSC_0784The next step will be oiling and waxing the floor once its all dry.  The way the space has come together fills my heart up in an indescribable way.  I am in love with this gentle space, so full of beauty.  I am so looking forward to spending time there with my sweet family.

a return to cob

We haven’t forgotten!  Time passes…life is full, and we have been busy.  My days have been completely immersed in the strange, magical, and irrational world of a two year old, and Greg has been in the middle of countless building projects (including a straw bale house for us!)  My patient little cottage has been waiting quietly, housing the occasional visitor, storing random items and crocks of various ferments.  But, finally, there is some time open for this sweet little cob house.  Greg spent all of last week working on the house, getting it ready to be our home this winter  We are focusing on getting the interior finished, as all the exterior plaster will likely wait until spring or summer.

Some pictures from last week!

A metal roof for the little gable above the back door, using scrap pieces from another project.  It still needs some work where it meets up with the cob and some of the cat steps.  I’m afraid that a couple of the steps will have to go!  But they will be replaced, ensuring that the cats will have full access to the eastern cat walk, should they so choose.

DSC_9748 DSC_9753 DSC_9774 DSC_9995

Greg poured the subfloor in the “living room,” trying out a mix with a bit more clay, using 1 clay to 3 sand.

subfloor!

subfloor!

And the culprit…

DSC_9737…who left these tracks:

DSC_9940

DSC_9935

Which gave Leo a good opportunity for a little lesson on how to trowel out cat prints:

DSC_9906 DSC_9962

Cob!  Greg got in a good amount of foot mixing, as there was a lot of cobbing to be done in odd places, as he worked on closing up the house and getting it prepped for plaster.  Luckily he had some help!  Leo was eager to join in a mix when I took him out to visit for a day.  My heart melted a bit…he’s a pretty good cobber!

DSC_0020 DSC_0022 DSC_0058 DSC_0070 DSC_0079 DSC_0086Ready for plaster!:

DSC_9943 DSC_9971 DSC_0110 DSC_9810 DSC_9855Greg also had the not so exciting job of switching out the wood stove, from the Scandia to our sweet Jotul 602 craigslist score.  Aside from being a nicer stove in general, the Jotul has the option of having the stove pipe exit from the top, which works out so much better in the small space.  Greg had to bust a new hole through the cob wall for the pipe to exit through, but that wasn’t the difficult part.  I had long ago returned my borrowed scaffolding, and now there is no easy, safe way to get up there and change the way the pipe is oddly bolted to the rafters in so many places.  Greg spent a full day, and then some, going up to the roof and down again working on changing my awkward installation.  It looks a lot better now…

DSC_9745 DSC_9747 DSC_9782Greg started building the cabinets under the counters, and also built some shelves next to the sink using mostly wood from the free pile at the sawmill.  He’s heading back out tomorrow to spend a couple days on the kitchen, installing the countertops and building shelving.

future countertop

future countertop

starting the cabinets

starting the cabinets

shelves

shelves

I’ll be back next week with another update!

Its Spring!!!

As each season comes to it’s end and the next is waiting new, something inside of me always feels refreshed.  Like letting out a deeply held breath.  But this time of year, right before the trees transform from bare branches, and the landscape everywhere is about to explode into an electric green… it’s my favorite time of year, and I always get a little excited.  There is so much energy and anticipation in the earth, waiting for just the right moment to burst out.  Shouldn’t April be the first month of the year?

The addition has been waiting all winter as well.  We got things to a good stopping point, and then left it for the season.  Greg has kept busy working on other projects, and now that it is getting warmer (tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70’s!) we’ll be planning a time soon to finish the addition.  We’ve also been planning…another house!  The building never ends…

Also exciting…Greg and Mike are teaching a series of workshops nearby this May.  They are going to be hosted at Pickard’s Mountain Eco-Institute near Chapel Hill this April and May.  They’ll be teaching one 7 day intensive workshop, as well as a few weekend workshops.  Plenty of mud and straw is in the near future!  Here are the links:

7 Day Cob Intensive

Earthen Oven 3 Day Workshop

Natural Plaster Weekend

If you’ve been looking for good cob workshop in the southeast, check out one the links above, and then come visit NC!

I also can’t resist sharing a little cuteness.  My sweet guy loves to “mix plaster” in his wheelbarrow, and make a big, muddy mess.  Here are a couple pictures of Leo learning to mix up earthen plaster and then trowel it on the wall.  18 months is a bit young, but I thought he did great job! (Although he always puts his plaster on the wrong side of his trowel..)

130209-DSC_0003-2130209-DSC_0025

And here he is again, plastering his face…

DSC_4257

connected!

The old south window is gone, as well as the foundation below it and the cob bench as well.  So now the two structures are officially connected!!!  The feeling of the space has now completely changed, with the original room and the addition one large room.  It feels so big and open, and its exciting to be able to now visualize what the completed space will feel like.  I imagine sitting at the (future) table, drinking coffee, the wood stove warming our home and our bodies, Leo running around…

There is still so much more to do, but its looking so nice…

the new south wall

 

goodbye cob bench!

Here’s a photo of the preparation for the sub floor.  Mike and Greg used chunks of urbanite and old bricks, and then gravel on top of that.  After some tamping the base is ready for the sub floor mix!  The mix they used for the sub floor was 4 parts sand to 1 1/4 parts clay slip, made from the local clay subsoil.

sub floor base

sub floor!:

I brought Leo out again for an afternoon, so he could help out mixing the sub floor.  Thanks for your help Leo!:

Wow…once again I am way behind in updating this blog.  I’ve recently realized that one of the biggest changes in my life, now that I’m a mama, is that spending all day each day with Leo causes me to live totally in the present.  I think so much less about the past, and in a strange way less about the future as well.  Although I still make long term plans and spend time figuring out what we’ll be doing next year, and the years after, for the most part when I am with Leo my mind is here only.  When we are playing together, I am allowing myself to be fully present, enjoying our connection together.  This has been a welcome change, but I’ve found that I’ve been pushing other things off to the side these days.  I hardly answer my phone…or respond to emails…or update this blog… Even though the addition is looking totally sweet!!!
I wanted to share some pictures from this summer.  Here are some pictures from July, when Greg and Mike spent a week working together on the addition:

a huge overhang on the east side, for an outdoor cooking space, and a crazy dormer that was our solution for connecting two very different roofs:

Mike decking the dormer:

Light straw clay!:

and here are some pictures from early August, when Greg spent another week working:

windows!:

counters:

Greg finished up the layers of the living roof that week, and even got all the topsoil up there!

EPDM rubber pond liner:

cedar slab wood fascia:

doors:

overhang:

Looking from the east has become my favorite angle from which to gaze at the house.  I am in love with the dormer, with it’s window like a great open eye peering east, and the crazy roof line.  Its the kind of thing you can’t really plan, a harmony between all the different angles, curves, and straight lines that is better than what a more intentional roof line would have been.

So, this week Greg and Mike are able to spend a few days doing some more work on the addition.  Greg went out there yesterday and starting working on the straw bale sections of the walls.  Today I brought Leo out for half the day, and I had the opportunity to do something I never thought I would do – take apart a section of the original foundation!  Greg starting removing some of the cob around the large south double window and some of the foundation below it.  And then I got to spend a while deconstructing the foundation.  What an odd thing it was, to bash the dried, solid cob from some of my first foot mixes for this house.  And to piece by piece remove the chunks of urbanite I had so carefully placed years ago.  Honestly, it was a lot of fun.

Here are some pictures from today:

making custom sized bales:

more bales:

taking apart the foundation:

Bastet observes from the balcony:

my last view before leaving today:

the new living roof has so much life already!:

Also, here’s a video of some of the foundation deconstruction:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 225 other followers