Our door was made from recycled wood by the cool people at Salem’s Bargain Barn. We went with the pre-framed model for the main entrance. Soon, you will see the makings of our back door, which will be a little round hobbit door! But I digress.
I’ve mentioned the concept of “deadmen” in previous posts. Deadmen are essentially anchors to keep doors and windows in place.
Notice the bracing on the door. It’s easy to shift things catterwonky while squishing cob around, so the bracing is necessary.
The nails sticking out provide even more hold inside the clay walls. I do have a few scrapes on my hands from forgetting about them when covering with cob. Ouch.
The quality of light in an earthen building is something special. The walls look soft and inviting. The natural clay or earth “paints” (alise or frescoes on limewash) absorb light as the cob walls absorb warmth and release it back into the room.
Our barbeque grill rusted out, so we built one from cob. We used the parts of the old grill that weren’t rusty: the lid, middle part and racks. It works like a champ! We just build a fire, make some glowing coals and grill. It’s also big enough to fit a dutch oven for some baking action.
To plan projects, we talk a lot. We cruise around the property and imagine little and big changes, trying to explain what’s in our heads. Soon, words break down and we pull out the notebook to illustrate, communicate, and document our ideas.
We keep all little scraps of paper, bits of napkin, paper bags… everything with little drawings or notes related to the property tucked in our notebook.
One of the joys of cob is the peaceful nature of the construction. It’s quiet, nontoxic, artistic, sensory, fun and communal.
Our excellent good friends visited last week with their two small children. They were amazed at the idea of a mud house. It took them a bit of time to jump in, but soon we were all busy.
At first they enjoyed sprinkling the straw while we stomped the clay and sand together. Then the job of walking the wall to stomp the cob layer down entertained them. Allena was our dibbler. Akian pushed bottle caps and beach stones into the layers. Finally, they wanted to get their feet dirty and wiggled their tiny toes in the soft, cool clay and the scratchy sand (sensory learning!)
In between batches, they made art with sharpies and cedar fence board ends. I set up the easel by the fire pit and they painted their creations. Nathan helped them make a fort with bales of straw and they set up an art gallery inside!
They also followed Nathan around, shoveling clay and sand into buckets. They carried fistfuls of cob mix in 5 gallon buckets to the wall. We made a cob mushroom and a cob fairy house. (Allena made a cool fairy nest, but her dad accidentally made it into a baseball.) We read books by the campfire, told many silly jokes and riddles, made up games and stayed up really late.
It was a perfect visit, except too short. Cob with kids! They bring unexpected magic that I’m convinced is absorbed by the walls and released slowly into the living space.