OUR Building & Site Update June 2018
Clay, Sand and Superstars
By Elke Cole
What do you get when you mix clay, sand and straw?
And What do you get when you mix sifted clay, sifted sand , fine straw (and optional sifted cowdung)? Read on to get the answer…
These and similar questions were explored in several natural building teaching days over the course of the PDC and with the Grade 9s from Saint Michaels University.
As good permaculture planning would have it, the students from Saint Michael’s arrived the morning of Mark Lakeman’s presentation. Primed with this spellbinding talk everyone showed up in the afternoon for hands-on with Mark and I (Elke) on the ‘intersection’ project next to the root cellar. Mark and I had a short design meeting that resulted in the sketch on a cedar board…
and collected cedar bows to put in place. The idea here is to have some roof cover over the bench and extend out as radiating trellis.
A few days later the PDC folks came to continue the work lead by Ben Garratt and Peter Shumaker; here’s the progression:
Mud is at the heart of many natural building sessions and the intersection sculpture only offered enough ‘mud-space’ for the SMU group, so for the 20 or so people from the PDC we moved to the ‘Garden Cob’ for a joyful day of plastering. Many hands put much love and song into this little house. OUR volunteers completed the work with more beautiful sculptural elements the following day.
Our plaster in this case is a simple earth plaster (2nd mix at the beginning of this article) with cow-dung and some added pigment. For this to be a lasting finish it requires two things: a good roof overhang to prevent any driving rain impact, and a finishing touch of a large, damp brush lightly brushing over a well- rubbed or trowelled plaster.
Another highlight of last week was a visit by our core consultants for the “Closing the Loop on Affordable and Healthy Housing” project funded by Environment Canada’s Eco Action grant.
I leave you with the answer to question 1 at the top, you guessed it…Cob!