NATURAL BUILDING AND ECOLOGICAL DESIGN AT OUR – Elke Cole
Here’s a question we are asked a lot around natural homes: ‘how much maintenance does it take?’ OR ‘How long does it last?’ While there are no simple answers to questions like that, we are currently revisiting OUR earliest buildings for some re-finishing.
The Sanctuary was our first construction project- started in 2003. Since then it has been used to host guests, life events, music and many healing journeys. It is a central facility to OUR community and used continuously.
The big room has had all sorts of chairs and tables, marimbas and massage tables leaving little marks on it. Mostly that just looks like a well-used room. After 14 years we decided to put a fresh finishing layer on top of the old- filling the little dents and covering some small damaged pieces. We’re now waiting for the oil to dry and will give a final polish.
Tip for earthen floor owners: if you wish to re- finish your floor, paint the existing floor with a glue/water mix and sprinkle sand into it. This will give “grip” for the new layer. Apply new mix thinly (1 cm max.) , let dry and oil. We have some hemp oil available if your project is ready to go.
As finishing coat we chose to apply Claylin oil.
Our walls showed little damage. A little scuffing here and there, some cracking due to the building settling, wood shrinking, or perhaps small earthquakes that went otherwise unnoticed. It’s not possible to match an old mix.
For small touch-ups, a sponge, big soft brush and some water can manipulate the surrounding surface enough to spread the original paint over the marks.
Tip: if you’re really organized you can save some plaster when you first build the building, store it dried in a bag and then use it to do minor touch-up later on.
In one of our smaller rooms it was time for a re-paint. Clay paints are easily made on site: you take some white or coloured clay and dissolve it in water; add 15% by volume flour paste and, if you wish, some mica (for sparkle) or finely chopped straw, or sand. Other possible ingredients are fine sand for texture and calcium carbonate for extra whitening. Tip: if your surface isn’t perfect use textured paint- it hides uneven spots and keeps our eyes moving.
In summary I’ll suggest the following to prevent damage on your natural home:
-An earthen floor can take a lot…except sharp furniture feet, tipping chairs and high heels. Put felt under legs of chairs, table and dressers. Use area rugs in frequent passages.
Surfaces like windowsills can be finished with a glue/water mix to be sealed against spilling.
-Re-oil your earthen floor occasionally for renewed beauty
-If you wish to hang pictures plan for this during construction by installing picture rails.
-Give your earthen floor an edge that can handle being bumped by brooms and mops. We are now building “baseboards “ with the final floor layer and treat them with oil- just like the floor.
The sanctuary will be ready for occupancy again in a few days and we are looking forward to the various medical practitioners who are moving into clinic days starting November 13th, 2017!Our team will welcome your booking of space for treatments / events / overnight stays for retreats etc.
If you are interested in working closely with me for a while consider our current internship or one in the early spring. Applications for a min. stay of 2 weeks can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some building background expected and/or a commitment to be either focusing on building skills for your own building project or to join a construction team or business.
-Elke Cole, Building Lead
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