It's been a little while because I've had my mind (and hands ... and feet) enveloped in mud. Literally. My husband and I are at the critical stage of building a wall on one side of our property. We decided to build it with cob, an adobe-like mixture of clay, earth, sand, and straw. The material is mixed with bare feet on a tarp, adding water and straw until the perfect consistency is reached. Then we pick up a glob of the stuff and slap it on the wall, molding it as we go. The layers are worked together with a long stick ... the weaving of the straw between the layers brings the wall tensile strength much in the same way rebar (the skinny steel bars) does for a concrete building.
Once we start building, we can't let the wall dry or else we won't be able to "weave" together the layers. So, it has taken up most of our waking hours this past week. Fortunately, the weather has been warmer ... dancing in the mud is something to look forward to after work!
We did find that this is a child magnet. Here are some photos of our neighbors helping us out.
They got so excited about cob's possibilities that they started planning to build a club house. Building a cob structure would be incredible for elementary and secondary children. It involves soil testing, simple structural engineering concepts, and lots of group work and planning. And, it's totally doable. My husband and I have never taken a course. We read The Hand Sculpted House, available here, but you could probably find sufficient "how-to's" online. A garden wall is only one thing that you can construct with cob. How about an earthen stove for baking bread outdoors? Or a sculpted bench? Lots of ideas for the elementary child to mill over.
In the meantime, my craft output will be less. Bear with me as we complete this project ... the benefits of such hard work will be a garden that doesn't get eaten by neighboring horses, sheep, goats, and pigs! Also in the works is my own craft studio. I can't wait to share photos of the finished product. It will be great to have a little place reserved for creative endeavors. I can't tell you what a pain it has been to work on the kitchen table. More on this soon.