Cobbing Complete!

David's picture

Hooray, were are all done cobbing! Well, mostly anyway. There're still touch-ups to do like around windows, niches and shelving but the walls are complete and boy are we happy about that! We had pretty much the entire west and north walls to cob over the weekend, and we were able to pull it off. But it was close.

We got out there Saturday morning with high hopes of tackling it all in one day. The weather was supposed to be clear, and we had a clear schedule to work with. There were some scattered clouds that morning, but that was just fine. I prefer it that way. There was also a good wind as well. I figured it was because the sun the pushing all the cold air around, to make way for the warmer stuff. But a bit of wind can be helpful when cobbing sometimes. It dries the cob faster so that you can build higher without the wall spulging out. Well on this particular day, with the little bit of cobbing left to do, the wind wasn't needed so much. We figured no biggie, we'll just mix our batches on the inside, at least until the wind dies down.

Come to find out, the sun had nothing to do with the wind. Long after noon o'clock, the wind was still whipping around. Eh, no problem. We just kept on a'going as we were. Which was like a well oiled machine. I'd load up the tarp with sand and clay, along with a good stash of water and straw, and Patricia would start stomping away. Patricia saw the light at the end of the tunnel and she was determined to reach it before the day was up. I too, was keeping busy. After setting her up, I'd reload the buckets and then got to workin' on the gables. Actually, it was the dutch door that I was building. But just as I was getting into a groove with that, I'd hear Patricia from inside call out, "Ok Honey, I'm ready!" And it was time to lay the cob.

I worked from a ladder on the outside of the building, while Patricia worked from inside. She'd grab a glob of cob and toss it up to me, over the wall. I'd lay it on, and she'd be ready with another. I did what I could from my side, and Patricia laid what she could on the inside. And when it was done, we'd start the process all over again. It was kinda weird because we didn't chit-chat a whole lot. We were busy in our own little worlds, occupied with our own little thoughts. It was all business and no play. Even Phoenix was doing her own little thing, keeping herself busy. We hardly heard a peep out of her. I guess it was just one of those days.

But the day was cut short. Not only did the wind fail to die down, but the clouds managed to get themselves all tangled up. Yup, buy about 4 o'clock the sky was covered with clouds. And they were not the soft' white, fluffy ones either. But by this time we were hankerin for some grub, so Patricia volunteered to go and pick us up a sandwich while I continued with the walls. It was a good plan. That is until after we finished eating. The lunch was perfect, but it was detrimental to our production. After the nice meal, we simply had lost our rhythm. Normally one of us would push the other to keep going, but neither of was were inclined to push. Plus Phoenix had enough. With the wind and cloudy sky, the temperature had dropped pretty significantly. Phoenix said she was cold and her eyes were showing signs of tiredness. So we decided to roll it up and call it a day. Besides, I figured we had only three more batches of cob left to go. Easily tackled the following day.

So the next day was a cake walk. We took our time finishing it up. And now I'm happy to say, "It is D-U-N, done." Not only that, the gables are just about complete as well. It kinda feels like I fed two birds with one worm.

So, overall, how did the cobbing go? Well it had it's good times and it's bad times, that's for sure. To begin with, we tried a few methods on making the cob and found that laying the tarp flat on the ground worked better than placing the tarp inside a ring of straw bales. We also found it better to mix the sand and clay together, dry, before adding the water. I'd like to mention that the easiest times of laying cob were when the wall was high enough so that I didn't have to crouch to lay the cob, and also, low enough that a single step up (bucket height) was manageable. Any thing like sculpturing and cobbing around windows and doors, takes a bit of extra time. Stomping on batches of cob using ice cold water is not pleasant, but when the temperature is right, the feeling of the clay and sand is quite nice on the feet. Keeping the walls from drying out, and also keeping the rain off of them was an ongoing issue. It's definite something I'd like to have a remedy for for the next time. Trying to build a square, level and plumb roof on walls that are not, is a bit of a hassle. I'm seriously contemplating on building the roof on posts first, and then build the walls up to it. (Of course if the roof is not supposed to be square, level and plumb then I suppose I'd have nothing to worry about.) And lastly, I wish we were able to dedicate more time to it's construction. It was like painting an entire room with a small paintbrush. Sometimes we'd do a batch here, a couple of batches there. There were times where it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere. Towards the end I was loosing my enthusiasm to cob. Two people are plenty for cobbing as long as they are doing it full time.

We are happy with it so far, and are looking forward to the finishing off the walls with plaster. But that will have to wait until next season. For now, there are many other things that need doing. The structural framing is all ready for inspection, which is scheduled tomorrow afternoon. If all goes well, we are going to start looking at getting the metal roof up.

Until then, here are some pictures we took on Sunday. Enjoy!


Rick's picture

Very cool! Looks awesome. Post some more pics from around the outsides and stuff!

By Rick
Rachel's picture

I LOVE the picture of Phoenix! LOL :-D

By Rachel