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Notes on Earth Plaster Workshop which I attended on Whidbey Island July 21-23rd

By Steve Tracy

While a good portion of city dwellers were contemplating global warming and record high temperatures, I was thoroughorly enjoying an earth plaster workshop on beautiful Whidbey Island . The workshop was presented by Ancient Earth School of Natural Building. I was joined in the workshop by two enthusiastic and joyous apprentices to the school, getting hands on experience in the preparation and application of earth plasters.

Projects included:

  • Overview of surface preparation details.
  • Clay/soil testing and clay/sand selection.
  • Doing a scratch coat to a light straw/clay slip walled sauna(interior and exterior), constructed during a previous workshop.
  • Fresco work to the outside of the sauna(see picture).

Fresco on sauna
  • Lime plaster finish coat mixing and preparing test batches
  • Color testing sample batches for final wash coating.
  • Applied a base finish coat(color wash coat to be added later) to a unique(tortouise/hare combo Ė see sketch - neglected to take picture) newly (apprentice) constructed cob oven.

turtle and hare cob oven

The days were hot, but the shade of tall trees, hose showers and interesting work kept my mind off from the heat most all of the time. Another interesting discovery was that clay slip on the skin works as an insect repellant.

All this, surrounded by other inspiring structures such as a strawbale yurt, earth bag wall meditation hut(under construction), composting toilet, bamboo groves, and vegetable/fruit gardens, surrounded again by a bird filled forest canopy.

I was also fortunate to be invited to several community events including swimming at a local lake and attended a festive birthday party. Both east and west beaches of the island are an easy Ĺ hr walk away, which I did every morning , gathering and eating just ripening blackberries along the way.

At first glance you may think that our thoughts were far from the issue of global warming, but I assure you that everyone involved at this school shares a deep conviction that by encouraging our rediscovery of our ancient building methods we can have a significant impact on climatic problems, while at the same time providing healthy, affordable, inspiring shelter to all people of the world, and especially to all the homeless currently existing around the world.

Iíve taken a small step and wish to continue rediscovering our Ancient Earth building methods, and hope that others will too.

Their next workshop is scheduled for August 12-13th and will be the constrution of a cob oven. If any of you decide to take this workshop, Iím sure it will be both fun and informative.


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Page last modified on July 24, 2006, at 08:52 PM