Friday, March 26, 2010

More photos of progress

Melissa took a few photos the other day, to show our work. The front door looks done from the outside,

but from the inside you can see we still have a bit to go:

The east living room wall is getting up to the center of the round window, but you can see we have to get all the way to the rafters yet:

and we've been working more in the main bedroom, so as to not have to go back in that corner later, so we're almost totally done in there, with the window arches and meeting the ceiling.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guests and goofing off

Besides cobbing, not much going on, but you can see how nice the weather is in this fuzzy picture, taken when some folks were up for a tour.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

String idea

As I am working on the arch over the front door (using the corbel plan, of very straw-full cobs slowly arching towards each other with an eventual 'keystone' cob in the middle) I realized that because of my earlier idea to put the wooden sides of the door in, I had a unique anchor point for some extra 'nylon rebar' that could help me make sure this arch is a little stronger.

I guess it's hard to see in this photo, but I tied some of that blue baling twine across the gap, and am burrying it in. It can't hurt, and gives me a bit of stability on those outter edges before they meet.
Mason Bees

We noticed the other day that Mason bees had started to move in to the small holes in the southern french door posts. While they probably wouldn't hurt anything, we felt that it just didn't seem like a good idea to have bees living in parts of the house, in fact we might hurt them as we kept building. So we built a couple of bee boxes, according to some instructions we found online. I put one of them right next to the post, so that after we puttied the holes in the post, they'd have somewhere to go.

They're great spring pollenators, so we do want them around... I just hope the hole size we were told to make is the right one (5/16th seems big to me). I also put one overlooking the fruit trees in the garden:

First Walls Touch Ceiling

Well, we've officially gotten to the top of the walls... in one, low part. Still, it feels great.

I'm pointing at the north wall in the main bedroom. We've now decided to keep cobbing in that area, to get to the ceiling in that whole northeast stretch.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Cleaning

We're back from our Florida trip, and even though we did a big clean up before we left (we like to come home to clean house) we decided that it was time to attack the mold that was creeping up the interior walls from a winter's worth of condensation.

We unscrewed the vinyl from the deck, and folded it up so we could scrub the inside while standing outside. We used vinegar and elbow grease, with a slight bleach wash at the end.

We had to take out some deck boards to get at all screws holding it down. That was a good thing though, as I need to plane the edges of the deck boards to create better drainage between them.

Here you can see how we folded the walls up:

it was an interesting way to see the walls from the inside:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Progress report: interior tour

To show where we're at these days, I took some pictures to show how tall the walls are. They are all about the same height, all the way around the building, but because the floors are at different levels from the roof, and the roof has slopes, there's a lot of variability in how far we have to go yet.

Here's Melissa, looking bundled for the cold by the front door. Notice the arch is getting close, and that we've finished the little arched window next to it. You can see we're almost to the roof in the this SE corner.

Here's Melissa under the big round window in the east living room wall (about 8 feet to the left of the first photo). Another interesting thing in this photo is the line in the wall just below her shoulders. that change in color is about when winter started... Things have been drying differently since it started raining around here. That's also where we had a bit of mold show up on the surface of the wall. If it's still there when we're ready to start plastering, we'll bleach it off.

Here's where we're at with the main bedroom east windows. The arches are just starting to get formed, and that seems to be going well. There's actually just two pieces of glass for those 4 windows... the first and third columns just go up the middle of the two sides of glass.

Here's the long view of the western kitchen wall. This is the tallest cob wall we've got so far, but we've still got a ways to go. Up there above the loft, there will be a *big* window, so we don't have to fill in that whole space, which is nice. You can also see the in-the-floor storage area (we're calling it the yukashita - the Japanese word for 'under-the-floor' storage) that will have a trap door on it, and you can see where the back door is also. Of course, there will be a wall of shelves below the loft, so when the house is done, you won't be able to see through like that.

And here's the northern wall, the bathroom area. You can see the mirror already in place, and those boards above it will be the recessed area for the lights. It will get plastered over later.

You can also see in this photo how much goes on in one layer... which is actually two days of work. See the darker, still wet layer at the top of the wall? that's one layer put on to fill in the 'teeth' created last time, and then another day of work putting the teeth on, to get about 10-12" or so of new cob.
Soft rebar, just for fun

Cob's ability to hold together in one monolithic system is well proclaimed by natural builders in many earthquake-prone areas. By sculpting it in continuous rows, with lots of jagged edges on the previous layer, it becomes one giant 'brick' of adobe, even though it's not shaped like a brick. Further, the straw, by running everywhere and tying together each and every bit, acts like a fishnet sort of rebar.

Still, since I have it laying around, I've been running nylon twine through various parts of the walls, just to add to the rebar effect. Below is a picture of some blue nylon twine that's tied to previous, buried twine, that is running along the middle of the interior wall at about 7 feet up. The nylon won't rot away, and in the event of a giant earthquake, it may hold a piece of the wall to other pieces, making things safer. Can't hurt.

I've also used those flat plastic shipping straps that seem indesctructible. Every so often we order something (chimney parts) that come with these straps around the boxes. Ever try and just pull one off with your hands?

This photo shows the 'T' where the living room wall is joined by the wall between the bedrooms, from above, at about 7 ft from the floor.

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...