why rising earth?

The title of this blog draws from my time as an apprentice at the Cob Cottage Company in costal Oregon. If you spend time with natural building folk, you'll eventually find yourself around a fire, sing silly songs about cob and natural building. Folks usually refer to these oftentimes improvised tunes as "cobsongs". I often sang..."There is a house in old coquille, they call the rising earth, it's been the work of many hands, and you know what that's worth..."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Workshop update

We've had to shorten the duration of the September workshop, which may make it possible for more folks to join us! If you're interested in participating email me at Michael@risingearthbuilding.com or call 919 685 0123.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

September workshop - High Falls, NY

I'm looking forward to teaching the upcoming Natural Building Workshop September 15-21 in High Falls, NY. It's sure to be a rich week of natural and community building at Heart Song Sanctuary. They host a lovely workshop on their 45 acres, where a few hand crafted natural buildings sit among the woods, meadow, and creek. 

We're going to be finishing straw-bale and cob walls with cob, earth, and lime plasters. We'll also lay an earthen floor, and explore round wood carpentry.

Get in touch for more details. Call Michael at (919) 685 0123. or Email michael@risingearthbuilding.com

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cordwood Arch

This spring I had the great pleasure of returning to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC to build another fun, creative, and challenging natural structure.  

This arch functions as an entrance to a section of hideaway woods, a whimsical woodland playground. The museum exhibit developers proposed the cordwood masonry wall with two arches. I had to figure out how to build it and pull it off successfully!

 The detailed and labor intensive project took about 5 week starts to finish. I had help from a rotating cast of museum staff and volunteers, arch advice from master mason The Alvin, and I'm so grateful to all those that helped contribute! I'm very pleased with the result!

It was great to work with the museum staff again. Here are Jose and Christian.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Green/Living Roof

Here are photos from a visit to the community pavilion at Heart Song in Ulster Co. This is the first time I've seen the green roof after installation and I'm thrilled to see it so happy and green! The soil is is about 4" deep and is a mixture of top soil and dry straw. We seeded with lots of wildflowers and were fortunate to have a rainy spring. We built last year but waited until spring to add soil to roof, so plants could grow and stabilize the loose soil to prevent erosion. Worked great!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Barn Loft Apartment

Here is the apartment I built in the attic of the house at the Vague Estates. This house seems to have started its life as a barn, and this was the hay loft, a dirty unfinished place with lots of potential.

John, the owner/architect designed a high energy efficiency approach. Foam insulation in walls/roof and careful air sealing around windows and doors have produced a very tight, comfortable space. 

I introduced a natural building touch, with a lime-sand finish plaster on the gable and knee walls. I'm happy we did, it contrasts nicely with the vast area of ceiling. I think the space turned out great!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cob Kitchen Workshop

Hey folks! I'm finally getting around to updating the blog with some of my activity from the year. Here are photos from the cob outdoor kitchen workshop Mark and I taught at the Vague Estates in Troy, NY this summer.

This little open air building was designed to shelter a wood-fired earthen bread/pizza oven, and utilize the abundant raw material found on site; including wood, stone, and clay.

We started the week-long workshop by completing a stone and rubble foundation for the cob walls. In a small gesture of regenerative building, the foundation material was harvested from trash dumps around the past neglected property. Clay subsoil was procured from an adjacent cemetery. Diseased or crowded trees were taken for the timber frame.

I've always based my oven designs on Kiko Denzer's outstanding book, Build Your Own Earth Oven. Above you can see us applying insulation material over the inner shell of dense, heat-storing cob. The insulation was a mixture of sawdust, straw, vermiculite, and just enough dried pottery clay mixed in to stick.

Here's Sandra compacting the sand form that defines the oven interior before we apply cob.

Layout lines for cutting the tenon on top of a round-wood post. And yours truly in the background.

Round wood carpentry is tricky, but doable. Looks great in a little building like this but would take a long time for a house!

Thank you Heather for the photos, Missy for the food, and the rest of the crew for a great week together!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Natural Building Workshop - Troy, NY

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming cob outdoor kitchen workshop July 17-23 in Troy, NY. We've been preparing the site, gathering stone, choosing trees to use for framing. There is still availability in the class, so get in touch if interested!