Many feet make light work

Many feet make light work

Earthen Built by Kata Polano

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Apr 5, 2010

More Art Studio @ OUR Ecovillage 2008

The Art Studio was the main project that we worked on during the 2008 Natural Building Skillbuilders program at OUR Ecovillage.
The front portion of the structure was pretty much built, yet a lot of details were still needed to finish it off. Attention to the benches, windows and sleeping alcove were the major areas of focus. See my other post on the Art Studio where I covered the entryway and bench that I got to work on.
When one walks into this space it is clear how much love and hard work was put into this entire building. The flowing curves around the sleeping alcove, the elegant lines below the office shelves, the form around the kitchen window; these all make the space come alive. We all put countless hours into this project, excited to try just about anything and see what happened. Some of the results are shown in the following pictures. I am so delighted by the warmth this space embodies.

The front room was by far not the only part of the Art Studio that we worked on. Many days were put into infilling the North studio room with slip n' chip. Being on the North side, the walls were made fairly thick, 12" thick actually. This took a lot of wood chips, and a fair amount of clay as well. Pat Amos came in to lead us through the trials and tribulations of mixing slip n' chip. He brought in a couple different machines for us to try out. The "Hamster Wheel" was a simple 55 gallon drum set upon wheels and with boards to grab and spin it with. I later rigged up a crank on the back of it. We had this thing going so fast it even jumped it's tracks.

Then Pat brought out what I call "Big Red". After a few little modifications and figuring out a good ratio for our mix, we were pumping out the batches faster than they could get packed into the walls. If I ever have a lot of slip n' chip to do again, this is one way I will keep in mind.

Turns out I really like infill, though I didn't figure that out till much later. After the slip n' chip dried it was as hard as brick and the surface gives a wonderful key for plasters. Depending on the amount of insulation wanted, all one has to do is vary the thickness. Oh, and straw gives better insulation as well as requiring less clay.

And we mustn't forget the floors, the beautiful earthen floors. I particularly love the feeling of laying out a good earthen floor. No gravity to fight, and such a large flat area to pull my trowel along, making such smooth and silky surface. Ahh, the glide of a trowel, just like icing a cake!

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