Archive for July, 2010

Sunday was the last day of a week long cob workshop at our place.  With 8 of us working together the cottage has grown into a structure that really is starting to look like an actual building!  Here are some pictures from the last week:

day one

handmade tortillas cooked over a fire

cantilevered stairs

pile of "cobs"

putting in the last step on the last day!

making half bales for the balecob wall


balecob north wall

the "spy window"

the walls are getting so tall!

I feel so lucky to have had everyone spend a week putting their love and energy into this project.  Two people were even here on their honeymoon!  It becomes more apparent to me all the time just how much the natural building process can differ from conventional construction.  Working in the middle of July through the summer heat, we had so much fun, and everyone was so enthusiastic.  Four people have even decided to stay for another week, saving me from the shock of having to go back to working mostly by myself.

Thanks so much to everyone for your hard work and great company!

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Last week I took a mini road trip up to Philly, and along the way got to visit a friend of mine who is building a home for herself and her husband.  Most of the building projects I’ve worked on have been with the same people each time, so seeing Melissa’s project was so much fun for me, and such an inspiration!  She decided that she was going to build a house, and without ever having even seen a cob house before, she just got some books and taught herself.  This is why I love cob.

We all have the knowledge and ability and resources to meet our needs for shelter.  That knowledge is just buried underneath all the messages whispered into our ears as we grow up in our culture.  Messages about who can build.  Who is strong enough.  Who has the expertise.  Messages about what shelter is.  Messages about what our needs even are.  When we can break away from what we’ve been told, we start to realize what’s possible.

At 5’1″, Melissa is smaller than me!  But, like me, she is the main person building her home.  She dry stacked her own foundation (on a rubble trench dug 3 feet deep!), and now has her walls built up, with almost all the windows in.  When Greg and I were walking through the woods trying to find her place, we knew we were on the right trail when this is what we saw peeking back at us through the trees:

The land there is meant for cob.  Amazingly beautiful stones are laying everywhere, perfect for dry stacking, but surprisingly few stones are in her soil to interfere with digging.  And the subsoil is almost the perfect mix of sand and clay!  Melissa hardly has to add any sand!  I’m jealous of her soil, as I’ve found I have to add a lot of aggregate to my mix to keep it from cracking dramatically.

Here a stone is embedded in the wall, just asking you to run your hand along it’s surface:

What does a construction worker look like?

An architect?

A designer?

An expert?…

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