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, October 21, 2015

Cob Garden Wall

Now that the treehouses are complete and Hideaway Woods is open to the public, I have more time to post other projects from the year. One highlight was working with the kids at the SEEDS educational garden to build a cob wall at the entry of their new garden plot.

This project was a great combination of so many aspects of natural building that I love. The work was done by wonderful people, for a great cause, and in a public location where the beauty of natural building has the opportunity to inspire many hearts.

We had different volunteers and friends helping every week, and I enjoyed introducing folks to cob and providing their initial natural building experience. The youth gardeners were the impetus behind the project, wanting a beautiful way to accent the gate in the fence of the new garden. It was a joy to build with kids taking pride in their work, and having fun of course.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hideaway Woods Treehouses

It's been a wonderful season of working on the new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, Hideaway Woods. The centerpiece of this unique exhibit is a series of nine treehouses, connected via cable and rope bridges, from six to twenty five feet up in the pines.

Rising Earth is fortunate to have been one of many great partners in the creation of Hideaway Woods, a whimsical, inspirational, and educational woodland playground. We provided local custom carpentry while Pennsylvania treehouse builder Dan Wright and his company Treetop Builders were the treehouse experts on the job.

We're only a few short weeks away from completion, and I'm looking forward to enjoying visiting after the public opening. It's going to be easy to enjoy this project, playing along with excited families, kids, and museum guests.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Natural Building Workshops 2015

2015 Workshops at Mud Dauber School of Natural Building:

Michael is once again collaborating with Greg Allen in instructing natural building workshops in North Carolina. We are offering two week long courses that will provide a thorough introduction to building with earth and straw through the construction of a community kitchen. Participants will learn through hands on experience wood framing, straw bales, cob, slip-straw, earth and lime plaster. Each course is focused on either strawbale or cob, but a wide variety of materials and techniques will be covered in each. Visit muddauberschool.com/workshops for details and registration information.

Natural Building Immersion - Strawbale focus: May 3rd-10th 2015

In our strawbale immersion, we will be stacking bales in a variety of ways: in a stud wall, in a post-and-beam-style wall, and in a “balecob” hybrid wall system. We will also use straw in its loose form to make slip-straw walls. The foundation and some framing will be in place; we will complete the framing, install a metal roof, and then build our natural walls. You will learn how to design around bales, shape them, connect them together, protect them from water, and finish them with plaster. We will integrate doors and windows, as well as sculptural details. We will tour local, permitted strawbale homes, and will have discussion surrounding the permitting process. We will additionally be building with cob and wattle-and-daub. There will be a good amount of time to get comfortable with mixing and applying natural plasters, too!

Natural Building Immersion - Cob focus: May 3rd-10th 2015 is SOLD OUT. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rising Earth Natural Building

Michael McDonough and Rising Earth Natural Building welcome a second home on the web:
risingearthbuilding.com will compliment this blog with project portfolio and more detail on myself and work. The site will be updated with more content in time, while this blog remains a great way to share current activities.

 This building features stone, timber and earth sourced on site in Hillsborough, NC. Exterior walls are stud framed, insulated with light straw-clay, and finished with lime plaster. A massive cob wall divides the southern greenhouse and studio, providing thermal mass.

The natural walls are made of materials found on site, which means that soil is dug up, mixed with sand, straw, and water. Cob is heavy and dries very strong. It's mostly earth, with some straw mixed in by foot. Light Straw Clay is used as insulation and plaster substrate. It's made of loose straw tossed with watery clay, and packed in wall forms.

Natural building is simple and easy to learn, but lots of work...the kind of job to do with friends. I always enjoy an opportunity to engage the community in a project, so Anu of Hillsborough Permaculture and I hosted a series of work parties to get the job done. People were eager to help out, and learn something new in exchange for good labor. I've found that introducing folks to natural building is rewarding and exciting. Bringing people together provides good company and fresh ideas, and the building benefits by having the contribution of others.