Many feet make light work

Many feet make light work

Earthen Built by Kata Polano

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Apr 5, 2010

Orella Ranch - 2009

At the start of the colloquium at Orella Ranch we were all faced with an empty stick framed set of restrooms. Over the week it was transformed into a building consisting of just as many natural building techniques as there are stalls. Walls went up, a privacy fence, as well as the roof.

The place was looking good, yet there was still so much work to do to make it sing. There was just a little bit of touch up needed before we were able to dive into the finish plasters and make it pop with sculpture and colour. There were a few of us from the colloquium who stayed in the area and agreed to come out and help when needed. Guner tapped into his network of friends and was able to recruit another set of consistent helpers. We soon became familiar with one another and formed a fun group who rocked it out to the music and laughter every time we got together.

Guner had some huge nopal cactus that we decided to cook up into a goo to be used as an additive in the plaster. I was excited to get to try this ingredient and the process proved to be successful. The cooking cactus was actually fairly pretty, in my opinion anyway.

Many times we worked into the late evening. Tossing our trowels aside, we climbed the hill in time to catch the breathtaking sunsets. Sometimes we would return, switch on the floodlights, and keep working until, one by one, we dropped off to bed. Well, this happened a lot more than just 'sometimes' I must say. The project was so engaging, and the company so much fun, we soaked it up as much as we could.
As the work parties progressed, so did the beauty of the building. Lime plasters, earth plasters, donated tiles of swirls and colors, music, laughter, and beautiful weather. I always looked forward to getting back out there to see the culmination of our efforts. The creativity of each and every member of the team was so impressive and fun to watch take shape on the walls. As with most earthen building projects, some things appeared, then changed, and sometimes disappeared. No matter how many times a particular shelf took on a new form, it was always beautiful. All these changes really made me appreciate the infinite possibilities earthen building is open to!
We ended up breaking the project up in a way that had a dedicated person or pair for each restroom stall, with Cassy taking on the lead for the majestic tree on the front of the building. We had some pigments donated by one of the art galleries which we each got to choose from for a colour for our designated rooms. I ended up with green, as it is one of my favourite colours. There was red and pink, yellow, turquoise, rutile, purple, and even black. As I have said time before, I just loved watching as each room developed and took on its own character. 
Then, one day, it was done!! Doors, sink, toilets, flooring, and other little details all got added, completing this amazing project. This is by far one of the most beautiful buildings I have gotten to be a part of, and perhaps the most beautiful set of restrooms I have ever seen. I really had so much fun during this project and my gratitude goes out to Guner and Heidi and all the beautiful people that came together and made this happen. Here are the pictures of the finished work.

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