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..."

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cordwood

Here's a photo of the cord wood arch I built last year at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. I just received some recent photos of the arch, and I'm excited to share them.



Cord wood construction is practical in the way it uses a cheap, abundant material, in a simple masonry wall. It's easy to learn to do, doesn't require any high level technical skill or equipment more expensive than a chainsaw. It does have it's drawbacks though, as wood and mortar are not natural partners, as they expand and contract very differently with changes in moisture. There are techniques to learn that help mitigate these challenges. Rob Roy has written a number of excellent books on cord wood building, as well as other topics including post and beam framing, and underground houses. He also hosts workshops at his Earthwood Building School in far northern New York.

Earth Floor

Earth Floors are wonderful. They're beautiful, soft on the feel yet durable, made with abundant natural materials (just clay, sand, sometimes straw, and finishing oils). They are a lot of work to install, but well worth it in certain situations, such as low traffic areas, places you want to sit on the floor. Here are a few photos of the floors I've done in Krista and John's healing sanctuary. This space is perfect for earth floors, because it's used carefully and gently, for massage, yoga, meditation.



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!