Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cob Workshop

Here are some pictures from the Cob Workshop we went to in May '07 in Shamrock, OK. This should give you a brief overview of what cobbing is like. These pictures are way out of order (I can't figure out how to arrange the stinkin' things!), so I'll just number them, and maybe you can follow along (I think there are 12 all together)!

2.5 (sorry...I missed this one). This is just a big vat of clay. You soak it in water to keep it soft for optimum toe squish-age.

11. Here's a view from afar of the building site.

6. A mound-o-cob balls! If you cover them up with a tarp, they don't dry out as fast.
7. You work the cob balls into the wall, being sure to integrate each new layer into the one below it. You do this by poking it with your fingers or a "cobbers' thumb" (A cobbers' thumb is really just a fancy name for a stick...you can call your stick whatever you like, I don't care. Larry is a nice name.)
8. You cob right around your window bucks. Window bucks are a smidgen larger than the windows, and are leveled and braced. You don't put the actual windows in until the cob is completely dry and has stopped shrinking.
9. You embed "deadmen" into the walls as you go (a deadman is a fancy word for a hunk of wood). These are essentially your studs. Window bucks and door frames get screwed into these.
10. You trim up the cob and make it plumb before it gets too dry. You do this with a modified hand saw, and a level. It's very important to keep your walls straight.

2. Another picture of the foundation. (They put the roof up first on this cottage, and then built up to it...mostly because half of it was strawbale...but you don't have to do it that way. We're going to build the walls of our cottage first, and then put the roof on top.)
1. You start with a stone foundation.
3. You mix the sand, clay, water, and straw together with your feet on a tarp. It feels great on your feet! A good tip is to hit up lumber yards for their lumber wrap. They're usually happy to give it to you for free, and it makes a great tarp...plus you're recycling!
4. The tarp allows you to toss the mixture around for better stomping. You know it's done when you can roll it into a big "burrito" (...or "dinosaur turd", as some of us like to call it).
5. You form the mix into balls of cob. This makes the cob easier to transport, because you can toss it to your friend that's closest to the wall you're working on. If you are lucky enough to have a bunch of friends helping you (hint, hint), you can form a sort of cob bucket brigade. Just watch out for the wayward flying cob ball--those suckers are heavy!

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