CCB# 201748
Aprovecho Sustainable Shelter...VBC 2011 - Boise Eliot Market...Clary Rose Cob OvenChip-Slip SaunaRaven OvenStrawbale Wall at the Boom Fe...the Regithe Drop at Boomthe Dance Temple at BoomOther Great Projects at BoomEndlesss Possibilities with B...Rammed Earth ColumnVillage Building Convergence...Cob Loop-de-Loop!HOPES ConferenceUrbanite Retaining Wall at th...My Little Moon LodgeLiving Walls Earth Plaster &...'Living Walls' plaster over a...Natural Building Colloquium 2009Earthdance BambooRainwater Greenhouse - UpdateRainwater Greenhouse - From t...Rainwater Greenhouse ProjectRainwater Greenhouse - Flipbo...Suscol Strawbale - Part 4 Fin...Suscol Strawbale Project - Pa...Suscol Srawbale Project - Part 2Suscol Strawbale Project - Pa...Balifornia Bamboo - Pagodas a...Earthen Sculpture on the Itha...Crane Hill Bio-Char Kiln100-mile Bike Ride through th...West Coast Women's Permacultu...Oasis RemodelBamboo 'Star Scraper' for the...Making of 'the StarScraper'Tales of the Palapa MamaVoyage of the Great A'tuin...Earth & Lime Plasters at Apro...Bio-Char KilnPart 8: Finishing TouchesPart 7: PlasterCob Oven at the Wildflower HomePart 6: ThatchingPart 5: Roof FramingPart 4: Reclaimed Wood FloorPart 3: ArchesPart 2: Making bricks and WallsAdobe Home for Peggy & Jo --...Natural Building Apprenticesh...2009 Natural Building ColloquiumPlasters and Floors at the Ec...EcoNest Straw-ClayTimberframing at EcoNestPermaculture Design Course at...Leo Party at the Laughing HouseLinda's Little HelperBack to Cob CottageMaitreya Cob BenchPoison Oak hurtsCob Cottage Company

Endlesss Possibilities with Bamboo

Making bamboo cups and hosting a workshop so that everyone could have a re-useable, easy to distinguish drinking cup. Carving and burning bamboo gives some really neat effects!

A bamboo bowl

bench built by Nick Mattson

the 'Pigglet" stool

offcuts used for a garden border fence

even a ladder!

bamboo balls!

Rammed Earth Column

Alright, pop quiz, so what can you make with steel pipes, and some scraps of plastic corrugated roofing?

okay, okay, and a bunch of duct tape?

Answer: A fluted column form for a site-based, rammed earth experiment!

After reading all the books I could find on the subject and doing small batch tests with the local soil, I design the mix to be 16 : 3 : 1 (site soil, mason's sand, cement) for the optimal compressive strength and a finish that I won't have to plaster yet still withstand the elements.

We weren't entirely sure if the whole thing wasn't just going to collapse actually when we took of the form the following day. But it worked great!

I even threw in a couple layers of varying colors and textures

and sculpt a cob cornice at the top

A huge light reflector serves as the roof and gives a 3" overhang around the whole thing.

It's located at the entry of the Garden of Earthly Delights,
at the BRING Planet Improvement Center

and supports the beautiful reclaimed metal gate built by local metal sculptor, Jud Turner

Village Building Convergence 2010

Welcome to the Village Building Convergence, a true gem about Portland and one of my personal favorite things about the city.

Each year, an organization called City Repair puts on a ten-day festival of community building and place-making, often using natural construction to do so. It's wonderful, 25 sites all across the city welcomed community members to join in playing in the mud while creating beautiful meaningful relationships and simple projects along the way. I was honored to be one of their guest instructors this year and participate in many of the activities throughout the week.

A cob bench from a previous year, being wholesomely enjoyed

An intersection painting, brings neighbors together in the street and helps slow down traffic with it's thoughtful design. There are many of these throughout Portland, how many have you seen?

A cat palace, built last year and led by my dear friend Eva Miller,

and this year she's building a Chicken Palace.
What lucky animals in the urban place!

She also led the renovation of the City's first legal Light Clay-Straw Retrofit.
And it came out great!

Here's a detail picture of the wall section for all you builder nerds

My awesome new friend Fezzo who was my housemate for the week.
and his bright red kilt that we dyed together mid-week.

This project was my favorite--an outdoor classroom at Madison High School. The timberframe and main cob walls had been built the previous year. Now we are adding strawbale ampitheater style seating and some bamboo and sculptural cob.

I have never seen as enthusiastic cobbers as here!
What a huge batch!

Rachel gets into it

Beautiful lime finishes from the prior year

Wetting down the top of the wall so that we can add to it this year. An amazing attribute of natural construction, that it is forever mendable and able to be rehydrated and continued.

Sebastian works on a bamboo detail.

Casey lays out the bale seats.

Then the seats are cover with slip and cobbed together, making it very strong.

We sculpt a sun at the center point of the top

Many, many people are involved with making it happen

Across town, at another project site, I lead a plaster workshop.

We are applying the final coat of plaster on a cob bench built the previous year.

Ellen has a great time finishing the project, she has put a lot of energy into the transformation of her backyard into a food forest sanctuary and community garden. She can't wait to enjoy using the bench!

So excited for next year, please check out for more info, and see you there!

Cob Loop-de-Loop!

Welcome to the BRING Planet Improvement Center!
I'm building a piece for their sculpture park called the Garden of Earthly Delights.

It's a totally ground-breaking, never been done before that I know of, cob-adobe hybrid spiraling loop-de-loop... yes, all that and some.

the 'before' shot

Laying the urbanite foundation

with a gravel bed below and reclaimed chimney bricks every 8 feet. Something had to break up the 50' long curved bench. The gently curving part is intended for classroom style seating when BRING wants to host groups to learn about sustainability, salvage and using reclaimed materials.

A group of high school students spends their spring break getting muddy and learning about how to build with cob.

We finish most of the length of the bench that week.

Then, I begin the loop

Building up the plynths

more cob,
even solo

finally the bases are ready

and I start the adobe arch, using a 5 foot diameter plywood form

a new friend, Jessica Gray, helps out

making arches is a total blast!

More cob, fleshing out the structural adobe arch

More builder friends join in to help with the integral roof/bench surface. We're using toilet tank covers to protect the cob.

We debate it for a long while and decide to go with a salvaged steel armature to support the overhang of the toilet tank covers. It's totally great working at a salvage warehouse, all materials right on hand!

Eva Miller and I trim the form of the loop

Max and Fezzo work on the toilet tank extravaganza

Each piece is slightly sloped to the rear to drain.

We use cementitious mortar to set the porcelin

The toilet tank covers follow the form of the bench and spiral upwards

we have to get clever about how we will secure them up-side-down

It takes all four of us to get them to behave

Wired in and temporary strings help out too. Defying gravity is one of my favorite things...

Super hero pvc'ers to the rescue for the rafters, another great find at the warehouse

the roof for the loop gets framed with these, Max Edelson takes on that project

I teach a workshop on earthen plasters and have several wonderful folks join in on the finishing touches

Ethan Rainwater, the Garden Designer is happy with what we've created.

some finished shots, with two coats of linseed oil, this thing looks an awful lot like a chocolate frosted donut... complete with sprinkles!

my original sketch/rendering that I presented to get the gig

quite like I thought it would be!

HOPES Conference

Every year, the architecture students at the University of Oregon put on a wonderful Green Building Conference called HOPES (Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability). It's one of the largest and most well attended student-led conferences in the country.

This year, I was invited to speak on a Panel called "Designing Systems for Life" in which I gave the piece on 'shelter'. It was great to see the attentiveness and excitement of young minds with the introduction to natural construction. About 80 people attended, and they asked really great questions and were fully engaged.

I also led an earthen plaster workshop at the Conference and taught a dozen students while re-plastering a damaged ten-year old cob bench. All of the students were new to natural building and we only had three hours to do the whole job, but it turned out just great! Enjoy the photos

some of the workshop students

the damaged end of the bench - directly aligned with the roof edge. A great clear example of what happens to cob uncovered after ten years of Eugene rain.

We fix the cob on the end and start the next plaster layer.


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bioconstruction & beyond