The past two months have been stellar for natural building and with (our current apprentice) Jordan's energy and enthusiasm, we've been building up a storm.
The weather has been ideal, which is to say warm and varied. I like using material that is not bone dry (it saves on water and time to mix; if it's more than just a shower, it turns our "Ready-mix" into "Insta-mix":), so the intermittent rain has been a blessing. Contrary to what many believe, I think the rain helps further bond and strengthen recently built walls - if it's not torrential. So the light rain we've had has only required the covering of our strawbale scaffolding, and the warmth has firmed up the walls so we haven't had to slow down even a bit.
We've gone so quickly, we're about to put the 2nd floor on: 12 floor joists (all unmilled 4" round timbers spanning up to 9') topped by 2x6 tongue and groove Douglas Fir.
In the course of getting up to the 2nd floor, we've almost completed a bomb-proof cob staircase: a curving, sweeping set of 14 stairs (8" high, at least a foot wide). These were primarily built using our Super Fast Cob technique, which means we eliminate the brick making phase and simply mix in place. Lots of Cob Dancing, and this is where the weather really helps: the rain makes sure the material is moist right through, so we simply add some straw while we dance and get the material in place with our feet. No bending over required!
We have finished the roughing-in of the stairs by using bricks for the ones that needed to be built out further and by using our trusty carving spade to define the stairs that were "buried" in the Super Fast Cob.
Our first workshop of the year next week is completely sold out (and includes a baby!) and we will have a fresh 2nd floor to begin the hands-on learning process. The participants will see what it's like to build from the ground-up and place four 7 foot tall windows (from floor to ceiling) and four 6 foot wide windows in our new walls.
And they will experience for themselves how quickly our Fast Cob! technique will build these walls! I'll be very surprised if we don't finish the 2nd floor in our 6 day workshop. With 5 learning sessions per day over our 6 day workshop, just our apprentice and I would get this done alone, fuelled by our cook's delicious 3 hot meals and 2 yummy snacks each day.
I'm especially looking forward to the 8 month old baby being in the thick of things. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a Fast Cobber in the next decade or two, since it'll be difficult not to enjoy every moment of our workshop! How many building sites can safely welcome a beautiful bouncing baby into its environs?
If you're wanting to join us this year, we still have a few spots available in our last 3 workshops of the year:
Our Cob Village
We'll try to keep you updated on all the latest activity here at Lasqueti's Cob Village...