Thursday, October 21, 2010


Having posted about the shed last night, and now the cob house tonight, I find myself wanting opinions from other humans about whether both structures are beautiful (so please comment). The cob embodies so much of one particular feeling, and I find the shed to appear a bit less alive, but still so fun to build and beautiful in its functionality.

Look at the two:

I'm tempted to think that the cob house is a structure that can stand alone as a whole accomplishment and a finished sculpture that is a very real part of all the artists/builders involved in its making. In contrast, the more conventional shed is a representation of the piecing together of very processed materials that aren't - and can never be - "mine." As a result, the shed will never be my own creation, regardless of how unique the design details are to my brain.

I was thinking about this the other day when working on the cob house. The ladies who I am building it for will most likely refer to it as "our healing room," when introducing it to people in the future. They paid me to build it. Much like I pay for things, and then they are mine; my truck, my clothes, my tools. Now I am thinking that they aren't mine. If I wore carefully crafted clothes from a local seamstress, than my clothes would be hers or his. As it stands, I don't know who or what made my clothes, and so they are no ones. In any case, I think this is one way in which money is (dangerously) powerful. It allows me to claim ownership of things that I did not have a hand or brain in creating.

This brings me to the dilemma of using processed materials. Cob is processed by me, and very little. Milled lumber is processed by a whole host of other machines and people, and quite a bit. I imagine that I'd have the same disconnect with the cob house as I do with the shed if I bought all of my cob at Home Depot, and it had already been mined, transported, mixed, and transported again by machines.

I love both structures, but the struggle persists.


  1. It is difficult to compare the two structures because they are so different. I like the clean lines of the shed and the way it is built it is much jauntier than a typical shed. The cob house revels in not being straight and sharp cornered. It is more creative and hand crafted. I can see how you find a big difference in the processing of the materials but as someone who was not part of the building process there is no similar dilemma for me.

  2. "Good design doesn't depend on whether something is made by hand. In fact, there are some very junky things that can be made by hand. The idea of making things on a potter's wheel in an industrial society was really and anachronism as far as I was concerned. It was okay while I was learning and getting a feel for the clay. But after all, a machine doesn't decide what the shape is going to be. A human being has to decide I felt I was in as much control as ever." -Edith Heath, on production in modern society

    Greg, both structures are beautiful. They both exhibit your understanding of environment, proportion, and a relationship with the material. I think with any material you use - wood, steel, clay - as long as the focus is on the beauty of the structure then it will always be your creation. No one can replicate your vision and I think you have two gorgeous buildings under your belt, soon to be a third.

  3. I love the cob; it's a work of heart :) It's a sculpture that must have been difficult to hand over...
    The shed is great workmanship.
    Love your work!!
    Thanks for sharing