Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Once a cob upon a time.

Events are taking place at the building site. Windows are being installed, deadman are dying, stones are stepping upon their fellow stones, and the marriage of strawbale and cob is taking place. It's shaping up to be a fine example of natural building (worthy of code-approval by any stretch of the imagination).

Part of the spiritual healing process that will take place inside the building is making sand paintings, for which a desk is useful. Here is the "deadman" setup that I whipped together to cob into the wall. The desktop (after it is realized into being) will be screwed into the 2X4s, anchoring it into the wall.

The deadmen (branches) were cobbed over.

As you might imagine, building with mud is not a perfect process. As the wall rises in a day, it usually "mushrooms" (tapers out) or "shoulders" (tapers in). To account for this, Eric and I check the plumb of the wall with a level and trim accordingly, using machetes and old handsaws.

Deadman are attached to the side of the window,

and the window is simply cobbed into the wall.

The building sits down a forest path from the community (just a zip-line away).

The mudroom, complete with a wrap-around cob bench, exposed stone pillar, and an opening window.

Eric builds the cob column on the southwest corner of the building, between our southern-facing windows, and our bale-cob wall.

His perch.

Cascading windows.

The south facade.

Some clay "slip" splashed onto the stonework. Slip is the glue of natural building. Anytime cob meets up with a dissimilar material (such as stone, wood, or bales), we use slip as the social lubricant.

Mortared stone column, atop which the ridge beam of the roof will rest (still 3 feet to go...). This decision was made solely for aesthetics, and is neither stronger, nor weaker, than a cob column.

Balecob. The inside face of the bale is coated into clay slip, then a rough layer of cob is applied, and then a final and stiffer layer of cob is added. The thin cob wall will act as thermal mass (head storage), and the bales as insulation.

I haven't taken any photos for the past couple days, but there is more progress to be seen. Check back in 4 days.


  1. I am amazed at the progress you have made.

  2. Amazing progress...you are going to give the Pickard's Farm House a run for its money. Who took the shot of your two guys both working at the same time, auto-timer and quick sprint to the wall? You could build an entire village in a year at the rate you've been throwin up cob. Throw big or throw home, right?