Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mud on top of mud, and more mud to come.

The original cob cottage (original pertaining to my own building career), in Chapel Hill. No building will ever give me the same feeling as this one.

This is what the latest cottage looks like with the fascia and rafter overhangs painted "Chocolate Sprinkle" (they used to be just white). 

The green roof is beginning to turn.... RED! With a whole bunch of baby amaranth.

We found a nice old door at a local building reuse warehouse. Mike stripped off the offending bits of old paint (not lead, luckily). Since the photo, it has been re-painted to match the roof fascia, had a screen opening cut out of it, and hung in place, with a working knob/lock and everything.

Here are some of the plaster tests that we did prior to exterior plastering. Our goal was to find a pleasing color to match the client's preference (it's hard to go wrong with any natural clay colors), and to work on a mix that was durable, smooth, and didn't crack - we played around the ratios of sand/clay/straw, and also with adding linseed oil.

And here we are, plastering!

Mike adds a roundwood bed rail to the top bunk...

What a pleasant place to sit!

I built this hinged desk, so that Anatoly can set up his computer/telephone/snacks/photos of the family/office. The hinged legs are not complete yet, so I don't yet have a photo of it fully functional.

And here are our plaster tests for the interior. The client is interested in a warm, reddish color. The tests use a clay that we bought at a local pottery store, Newman red (a very tomato-soupish red). In a lot of the tests it is mixed with a white clay. And then some of the very intense tests include the addition of a Spanish red oxide pigment. These are fresh tests in the photo, and will dry to be much lighter. We hope to plaster the interior as soon as we can get in an order of clay (250 pounds of it).

The most up-to-date exterior shot:


  1. Your posts are so inspirational. I can't wait to get my hands all muddy. We're doing a cob extension on a little shed and turning the whole thing into our home. Your work had given me so many ideas! Thank you :)

  2. This looks awesome!! I want to come visit you guys and maybe learn from you…?!? I went on your website but it doesn't have info for 2012. I live in Charlotte and want to build a naturally built house here and am starting from scratch. How can we coordinate? Please e-mail me at nayeli.phoenixATgmail

    Thank you!!

  3. Guess, I'm not the only one! Where did you learn to do this? We, too, would love to have a small cob house in our backyard, ideally one that heats itself and powers itself with solar. But I don't have any idea how to start or what a general idea of a budget might be! Do you have any resources that you could recommend to get started learning the basics of this kind of construction?