Earth Plastering Course with Mud and Wood

8 Sep

It is a while already since I attended this weekend course, but I still have good memories. The husband-wife team did a great job teaching us about the possibilities of mud. They have great experience from building their own cob house, where they did the most from the sculptural possibilities of cob building.

cob house

Mud and wood headquaters

Earth is amazing material and it is available on any site for free. With bit of luck you can discover ready mix on your site. No deliveries of bricks and insulation, just sub-soil and straw. Of course it is not so easy, you need to do series of tests on your soil to find out composition. After this you might need to adjust ratios of basic content of soil, which is clay and sand. But the course was about Earth plastering.


Playing with cob

Earth plasters have long history in human houses and in fact they are still being used widely around the globe. The pros of using earth plasters are quite obvious. It is a natural material with no embodied energy, inexpensive and easy to fix.

straightening coat of earth plaster

They are great for plastering curved walls or just any shape. However the tradition of earthen plasters in western world faded away with use of cement, but thanks to people like Collin and Feile you can discover that anyone can do it.

bit of theory explained

Every plaster has common features, it contains binding and structural element together with fiber and additives. The soil consists of:

  • Clay – binding agent- consists of extremely fine particles. It is cohesive and sticks to sand and fibers holding the mixture together and as well securing mixture to the wall.
  • Sand – structural strength – provides structure, strength and bulk to earthen plasters. It consists of tiny particles of rocks.
  • Silt – finest particles of soil. For plasters this is undesired element, because it is decreasing binding strength of clay.

Finishing coat

Part of the course was how to prepare and apply natural paints. We were introduced to clay paints and limewash. By adding natural pigments you can achieve attractive and durable finishes for walls. It is very simple to prepare them by yourself using wheat flour paste or casein to prevent abrasion of the paint. It might be easier to pick up a cheap bucket of modern paint made from mixture of chemicals and solvents. But do you really want to breathe all this? Even when the smell of fresh paint is gone there is still some nasty stuff in the air for many days.

The course was two days packed with information and hands on experience. Both theory and the practical part were well balanced. Colin and Feile are great team and all of us attending the course went home wise about earth plasters and natural paints.

Watch this video about their Cob house

No comments yet

Leave a Reply