Strawbale , Earth Plaster and Cob


All the Above!


I used to separate them in my mind as distinctly different areas- well guess what , gang? They are so intertwined in our world that I can no longer separate them…imagine that šŸ™‚

Each is indeed a distinct skill, but they support and help each other to work better. It drives home how everything we do is part of the greater Circle.

I remember loving the old haciendasĀ  in southern California when I was a girl- we had friends that were members of the old hidalgo families and a few of the older places stillĀ  existed. I loved the old missions- especially San Fernando- much of it is gone now-it is only a small space now. They were made out of adobe blocks , plastered in mud and lasted generations. Some of the old churches were severely damaged when they were coated in cement stucco- luckily the damage was discovered and the stucco was stripped and replaced with the old method of earthplaster.

Another building method that caught y attention was our cabin up in
Lone Pine- it had huge river rock walls up to the window sills with lodgepole pine above-.

When we moved here to Arkansas , I was lucky to live around some of the older cabins- a number of which were what folks called “Double Pen – Two cabins and a dogtrot porch- all under one roof…I later came across a study done by Purdue showing that a dogtrot will cool a cabin by 15% – taking the temperature from 100 degrees to 85..Here’s a picture of one


I was out in Arizona one spring when I was invited to help plaster one of the pueblos. someĀ  of the older women told us stories- this was a tradition each year – a renewal of life-not a chore. I learned their technique- how the way the plaster is laid on affects how weather proof it is. I got to see a few awesome strawbale homes then too.

Those images stuck with me over the years. Later when I remarried , we were inspired by a local lady _Mary Olsen- who got involved in building with straw- it was so creative for her!

I wanted to build a strawbale home- but the time wasn’t right. Later we were blessed to find this place and have a chance to build our own place. I ended up volunteering a lot- learning what I liked and what I didn’t – did a lot of research into what would work in humid areas , with wet winters. Between an architect I met in Canada and several folks where I volunteered we felt like we could build a home that would handle our weather here in the Ozarks.

During the building process, we ended up incorporatingĀ  all three methods-strawbale, cob and earthplaster. Each had it’s own place in construction.

We built using the technique called in-fill. Putting up the frame and then setting the bales in, rather than load bearing , in which the bales re compressed so they are strong enough to hold up a roof. We filled any structural gaps with cob and some free form structure as well. We are now in the earth plaster stage-slow moving -life happens , but it is slowly getting done.

IntegratingĀ  all three techniques has worked for us- here are some pictures of our building adventures.











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