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Archive for March, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been focusing on making the second story room livable.  After finishing all the cob above the windows and around the rafters, I was really, really excited to get some plaster on the walls.  Watching the cob walls get dressed in a smooth plaster was one of the most satisfying moments of this project for me… to have one room of the house start to feel complete is the realization of a lot of hard work and planing, and it feels great!

Last week we started off by testing our mix on the bench in the first story.  Our mix was one part soaked lime to three parts sand, a little bit of light yellow ocher pigment, and a small amount of alpaca fiber and deer fur.  I’ve been lucky enough to inherit some lime that’s been soaking for five years!   And the alpaca fiber was given to me by a nearby farm, while the deer fur has been laying around from some hide tanning projects.  (The pigment and the sand were purchased).  After plastering the bench, we decided to leave the fiber out of the rest of the mix, as it was clumping up into some hairballs…

Here’s a picture of the plastered bench:

We started plastering the upstairs last week, and got half of it finished the first day, with the rest of the room finished within the week.  In the end it took about three batches of plaster, with each batch being 4 full five gallon buckets of material.

As a side note… always wear gloves when working with lime!  The first day plastering I could only find one of my gloves, and was too eager to plaster to waste any time looking around.  The lime dried out my skin, and ate some holes in my fingertips that were pretty painful.  I’ve been vigilant about wearing gloves during the days since then…

I need to take some better photos soon, but here’s a couple from the first plaster session:

After finishing most of the plaster, I couldn’t wait to remove the tarps from the floor.  Those tarps have been hiding the beautiful wood floor since last summer, and I’ve been eager to get rid of them.  They were actually cobbed into the wall about 1/4 inch, so I had to cut them to remove them.  Once I got the tarps out of there, my friend Steve came over, and spent hours and hours sanding the floor boards.  Now instead of a clay/straw/tarp floor, our floor looks like this:

Greg came out a couple times lately, and in addition to helping me plaster, he worked on building a small door for the second story, completely out of scrap wood.  With a small window at the top and a cat door at the bottom, it’s looking pretty adorable.  This door is 3’3″ tall, and around 23″ wide…

Greg started working on some shelving, too, and once the shelves are done and the floor is finished, that room will be complete!

 

And because my cats are so cute…

here’s a picture of Bastet sitting in the round window:

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As the season progresses, our home here is coming back to life, as the focus switches from keeping warm to any number of projects and activities.  Now when the weather is nice, everyone is outside, working on building projects, gardening, etc.  It feels good to know winter is coming to a close, with the rest of the year waiting for us behind it.  I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at the dairy where I work, but on my days off I’ve been focusing on finishing the second story of the cob house, cobbing in the rafters and getting the room ready to plaster.  All the cob is almost finished, and I hope to be able to plaster within the next week!

The weather on Friday was still a bit chilly, so Noel volunteered to do all the foot mixing, while I sat on the balcony and watched, my feet warm and safe inside my boots…

Since Noel mixed the cob, I built with it, closing the gaps around the rafters.  Its been months since my hands have got to experience the sensation of working with cob, and I had almost forgotten just how much I love it…the deep satisfaction that comes from working with my hands.

Here you can see how much nicer the roundwood rafters look once they’re surrounded by the cob wall.  All the darker brown cob above the window is the fresh stuff.

We finally finished cobbing in the wood stove on Friday as well, and I’m excited to fire it up for the first time at some point this week!  Here’s some pictures:

crazy stovepipe...

So, now there is a new object in view from the balcony of the cob house.  Can you see something in the background, between the stump and the cob house?

Our friends Julia and Ben are building a tiny cabin, mainly out of salvaged materials and roundwood harvested from the woods here.  Its looking so cute that I can’t resist posting some pictures of it!  Designed to be low-cost and quickly built, most of the work has been over the last month, with hardly any money spent on materials.

julia

loft

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