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..."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Oxmoor Farm Outdoor Kitchen

Here are a few photos of the completed Oxmoor Farm Kitchen. This is part of the outdoor classroom at The Food Literacy Project , a non-profit farm based education organization in Louisville, KY. FLP is the educational partner to Field Day Family Farm, an 8 acre sustainable vegetable farm that also raises poultry and hogs on their agricultural oasis on east side of Louisville. This is a very special place and it was a joy to  make such a lasting contribution to the outstanding work happening there.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You Tube video

It's funny that I have a blog because I'm not much of a computer guy really. But today Greg reminded me of the You Tube video  of us working on the Pickards Mountain cottage in Chapel Hill in 2009. It's approaching 200,000 views, and if you do a search for cob on the site, it's the very first video to pop up. I hope you enjoy the video and take it with a grain of salt. I never imagined so many people would hear what I had to say that afternoon. A few years down the road, I don't know where I got that "over half the people in the world live in earthen buildings" bit, although It's probably not too far from the truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Introducting 606 Carlton Ave.

My work since May has been helping my good friend Greg build a house for his parents in Durham, NC. This is an urban infill project, on a site in a downtown neighborhood that has been empty since the 60's when the original house burned down.

The project is happening in two phases, with the first third of the house being built and largely completed before we begin the rest. This first part contains the kitchen, bathroom, informal eating/transition space, and back deck. To the front of the house, we will be adding a living room, two bedrooms, and mudroom/entry room later on. The first phase is built mostly conventionally, with a concrete foundation, stud framed walls, and a metal roof. Nothing too unusual...except for the earthen floors, clay and lime plasters, ferrocement shower, and handmade hardwood cabinetry. Here are a few photos of what we've been up to this summer, hopefully I'll manage to get some more photos up soon.

The house will have a fair amount of concrete details, such as this threshold. It's a wonderfully flexible material that will contrast with the natural materials and give the house a more modern feel.

Here is our finish plaster test wall. The plasters are composed of varying amounts of clay, lime, and sand. Some contain finely chopped straw. We'll watch for cracks, weathering, and test hardness and dustiness before choosing our mix.