Cobbing Update.

David's picture

So we've been continuing to work on the cob walls and things are starting to take shape. So far everything is still moving along nice and easy, without any major set backs. We are on our second truck full of sand, and will need at least one more to finish the job. Clay is still plentiful, and I imagine we are going to have quite a bit left. Probably enough to build another cob building if we wanted. There are some other projects that need to get done, but I have thoughts on trying to get a cob oven built next year if time permits. We are more than half way through our supply of straw, and will mostly like need another few bales when we get our third load of sand.

The walls are getting pretty tall now. Tall enough that I can't work on them from the ground anymore. I put together a couple of pallet planks and lay them on two five gallon buckets for scaffolding. I may be able to get through two lifts before I have to come up with something else. I do have 55 gallon barrels, but I think it would be kind of a pain to move them around. But we'll see. Also, being how the walls are becoming a stretch to lay the cob, I tend to have to work on both sides of the wall in order to form the wall properly. Especially around any design features like windows. I imagine if my scaffolding was taller I'd be able to manage it all from one side only. More of a reason to come up with a good set of scaffolding.

Here's a tip. The books I've read say to keep all the building materials close to your work so you don't have to lug them far distances. This is a great idea, but it seems you can have them too close as well. I thought I did ok by having my materials at about 6' away. And really, it is working out fine. But there are times when a few more feet wouldn't have hurt at all. Like for instance when setting my door I needed to brace it with a piece of lumber angled to the ground. This way the door doesn't move out of plumb. With a nice piece of lumber cutting into my work space, carrying two bucket fulls of sand can get a little dodgy when walking around it. And coming back to scaffolding, I can't build a fixed set of scaffolding around the building because we need that space to mix cob on the tarps. There are other times when more space would have been nice, so next time, 8' is going to be my mark.

Today we had a volunteer help us mix cob! Dorothy came out and treaded a few batches of cob with us. And I tell ya, with her and Patricia mixing a batch of cob each, I had to work double time just to keep up. Towards the end I even had to have Patricia help out with my duties just so I can keep my head above water. But man was it ever worth it. I can't believe how just one more person sped up the construction. It was great!

We also started putting in our windows, and they are looking real nice. They are also breaking up the wall some, so that we are using less cob. But as I had suspected, it didn't make us go any faster. Sure we are laying less cob, but cobbing around the windows takes an extra bit of detailing to form them correctly. But at least they aren't slowing us down too much. Besides, they are giving the walls a lot of character. Laying cob after cob was getting a bit 'blah', but now that there are windows to form, I seem to have a bit more giddy in my giddy up.

For the windows themselves, right now we have three, and at least one more later on. We have one window that is located above the counter top on the west wall. It is a top-hung window so that it can be left open, even when raining. There is also a 'porch' window which will be used similar to a porch light. It's made up of three bottles, two square clear ones on the outside and one orange triangular one in the middle. A candle is meant to stand in the alcove to shed light outside near the door. And lastly there is Patricia's cool window. She is using glass blocks in her design. She painted the blocks white, black, red and yellow and is setting them in the form of a native medicine wheel. Outside you see the solid colours, but inside the suns light penetrates through the paint and gives a nice coloured glow. So far we set the lower half, but will be adding the final colours in our next lift. I can't wait to see them all together. We have a few other single bottle windows as well, but they don't let in much for light. More for purdyness.

Well, there is still lots to do and little time to do them in. Soon we'll be working in the loft and roof rafters, and also start making up the slip straw blocks for our gable ends.

Here are a few pictures of our windows.

Comments

Rachel's picture

Very cool! I love the idea of the bottles with the candle alcove. I can't wait to see Patricia's finished window. Sounds like it's going to be very pretty. You guys are doing an awesome job!

By Rachel
David's picture

Thanks! We are just about finished with the cob walls. Only 3 more lifts. These last few days have been a bit rainy, so we havn't had time to work on it. Hopefully it will clear up by Friday.

By David
Rick's picture

How do the windows work when they get wet and dry - expand and contract? Do they leave cracks that will need to be filled? I was assuming I would need to tie them to an embedded kingpost so when they expanded and contracted the interior of the wall would allow that movement without cracking the exterior or interior finish.

By Rick
Rick's picture

How do the windows work when they get wet and dry - expand and contract? Do they leave cracks that will need to be filled? I was assuming I would need to tie them to an embedded kingpost so when they expanded and contracted the interior of the wall would allow that movement without cracking the exterior or interior finish.

By Rick
David's picture

I'm not sure what will happen. I drove some nails half way into the wood and left the nail heads sticking out so that when it's encased in the wall, the cob can have something to hold on to. This is something that was recommended in our cob book. I guess the theory is that in order for the window frame to move, it would need to move the cob along with it. Which, it can't (I hope). If I do get some cracking I think what I'll try is make a clay slurry and brush it into the crack really well.

By David

It is looking great! I love the colored glass windows. I looked for some everywhere but was unable to find any!! I love it! Keep up the great work.

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