This is a cob bench, made with clay soil dug from nearby and ammended with sand & straw. Simple to build & comfortable to sit on. It may seem like a clay bench couldn’t be comfy, but it’s all about the ergonomics. I wrote an article explaining the specifics about how to build a bench that is comfortable that you can read here: www.buildnaturally.blogspot.com/2013/12/how-to-build-comfy-cob-bench.html
Q:what is the square footage of the Virginia straw bale house?
It’s about 1500 square feet, plus a basement (1/2 of which is utility & storage and 1/2 of which could be finished into usable space). 3 bedrooms, 2 baths total.
This is a strawbale house I designed in Virginia, outside of Washington DC. It uses a fraction of the energy that a conventional house of the same size would use, because it maximizes natural daylighting, has super insulated strawbale walls, and is oriented to capture low winter sun & heat but stays cool and shaded in summer. Many of the materials used were harvested locally, and all are natural, non-toxic, rapidly renewable, and/or have very high post-consumer recycled content. It also features composting toilets and a graywater system for a truly minimal eco-footprint.
Plasters made with clay are beautiful, durable, and made from inexpensive and non-toxic ingredients. Clay creates a breathable finish material with a natural capacity to regulate moisture and temperature in the surrounding air. Clay naturally absorbs excess moisture in the air, helping air to feel more comfortable in summer, while its high thermal mass creates a battery heat (or cooling) storage that helps to maintain constant air temperature. Materials can often be found on or local to the building site, making the ingredients dirt cheap…literally. Or you can use dry bagged clay from a pottery supplier. Clay naturally occurs in a variety of colors and clay plasters can be pigmented with mineral based pigments in every range of color. Techniques for mixing and applying are simple and the plaster is extremely forgiving, even for beginners of any age.
To get started experimenting with clay plaster, see:
Q:Hooray, you have a tumblr! Already following you on fb but just wanted to say hello and that I love the things you post and work you do. It's incredibly beautiful. Good wishes!!
Thanks for your sweet note. I’m still trying to navigate all of the different avenues for communicating via social media…
Q:Hi, my name is Gabe Craft. I have been interested in from a culture for about 13 years or so. I visited Earthaven Ecovillage with my wife about six years ago... Now I am aggregating in curating a blog about tiny houses and small houses (smallhomeideas ) I just read blog one of your posts so I wanted to say hello😃✌ And, do you have any links to resources for affordable permaculture workshops?
Hi Gabe, and thanks for your note. Not sure where you are located, but if in the Mid-Atlantic area generally, I have 1 former and 1 current clients that teach permaculture in Maryland. Here are the contacts:
Hope this is helpful to you! All the best, Sigi
If you are looking for a small project to get your hands (and feet!) dirty testing out some natural building skills, then building a wood-fired oven is a great place to start. If you have a little help, it takes just a couple days to build, then a few weeks to let it dry out (during which time, you can sculpt your oven to any shape), and then you’re ready for a pizza party!!
For more information, complete instructions, and some “how to” videos, see my blog post: http://buildnaturally.blogspot.com/2013/06/build-clay-cob-oven-in-your-yard.html
This is a small strawbale studio in West Virginia. It is designed to absorb the sun’s heat in winter and stay nice and cool in summer…passively. The outside walls are built with super insulating strawbales, that have lime plaster outside and clay plaster inside. The inside walls are sculpted out of clay, sand & straw, built from soil we dug on the property.
This is the sculpted cob wall in the first natural building project I helped design & build. The wall is inside a strawbale addition to a home outside of Washington DC, and is sculpted out of clay soil dug right out of the ground where we were building. A flue pipe connected to a wood-burning masonry heater flows under the bench, and keeps the bench & the whole addition comfy warm.