Saturday, August 30, 2008

Take that...and that!

Thursday was torture...for our test bricks, that is.
We subjected our subjects to various unpleasant tests...
no Chinese Water Torture, though--that would have been just too much!
Just needed a little information is all --didn't actually want to kill 'em.
Lucky for us, the bricks cooperated.
First up was giving the bricks a thorough once-over--being careful to pay attention to any obvious cracks or weaknesses. The bricks didn't look too bad! There were a couple of questionable spots, but Brian seemed to think those were on the bricks I made! Sheesh! I didn't know it was a stinkin' beauty pageant (of course, this coming from the guy who can spend 5 minutes smoothing out a tub of margarine)!
Anyway, next up on the torture agenda was the scratch test...!

We took nails and scratched the bricks as hard as we could. I have to say, all of our bricks held up extremely well! Hardly any crumbling, and it was almost impossible to make a groove.Nice "blue steel"...are you a model?
After that was the Twist Test. We tried to break the bricks by twisting them. I'm happy to report they didn't even budge, and as you can see, we used every ounce of our muscle power.
I think we've decided that our best bricks were made with 3 parts sand to 1 part clay, although 2:1 worked out nicely, too. Supposedly, the more sand, the stronger the wall, so I think 3:1 is going to be our Little Darling! She's one tough cookie!
What's little and green and comes out in the spring time?....
Patty O'Furniture!

We also picked up these little beauties, so now Brian and I have a place to have tea and crumpets, and smoke pipes while reading the morning paper.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3

Thursday was our much anticipated test batch day! We mixed some cob up in various proportions (2 parts sand : 1 part clay, 3 parts sand : 1 part clay, etc.). Brian and I got to practice our "cob dance", and I've got to say, Brian sure knows how to "mix it up" on the "dance floor"! He's a regular Cob Travolta. I mostly had the rather menial job of moving the tarp around...such is the burden for those of us with smaller feet.

Here's Brian river-dancing on the cob. Due to his extremely ticklish feet, he really was doing the "Elaine" at the beginning. This brought me great satisfaction.

Here I am looking a lot like a cob ninja. Despite my assassin looks, I am actually forming a cob ball to test by squishing (snow ball test), and dropping (drop test?). You listen to the cob, too, when you squish it. You're supposed to hear the scratching sound of sand-on-sand. Mine said "Paul is dead".

We made test bricks of our various cob mixes, making sure to scratch the recipe on the top of each brick with a stick (see below). From each batch, we made bricks without straw, and bricks with straw. Brian made the brick mold out of a broken down pallet. He's so crafty!

Kenny, Rhonda, and Clancy came out to help us! After donning Miss Piggy's gloves, Kenny mixed mortar and helped with the heavy lifting.

We also filled the middle of the wall with mortar and less desirable sandstone from around the yard. This is where Rhonda came in with her tuck point (?...small trowel thing), and helped spread the mortar. Rhonda also brought us fruit juice slushies, which tasted mighty-fine!

Clancy was a big help too (and by "help", I mean a total spaz).

He swam in our clay tub, burried things in the sand pile, made himself some tap shoes out of mortar, ate our leather gloves and flip-flops, peed in our house, and jumped in the back seat of the car covered in mud. All in a day's work, right, Clancy? (Oh, but look at that smooshy face!).

Here are our test bricks drying in the sun. As soon as they're dry, we'll karate-chop them, and submit them to various other forms of torture in order to determine which one most deserves to become our house, and which ones are "fi-yad".

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Hey! Guess what! We've got an address! We've even got a pretty little mailbox. With the reluctant assistance of the enclosed instructions, Brian was able to assemble it lickity-split. I assisted by watching and taking pictures. Although, later, I was able to put my years of sign making experience to use by skillfully sticking on some numbers. (I'd love to show you, but I don't want Big Foot to know where we live). Later, Brian took the mailbox out to the Hollow and stuck it into the ground on a rather handsome looking log. I have to say, I think it looks quite spiffy! We may not have a house, but, by golly, at least we've got a mailbox!
PS. No, our mailbox doesn't have "naughty bits", and no, despite rumors, that was not our mailbox on Mailboxes Gone Wild IV--our mailbox has never even been to Cancun.