Monday, January 29, 2007

December 2006 marathon

constructing the guest room—

Excavation had been done during the year and the foundation started early on

stones were put together
like a puzzle, each one fits in its place.
they are glued together with earth mortar and a small amount of cement

the year was passing by and the desire to see wall rise got bigger

but this work is huge indeed
perhaps 100 tons of cob making,

mixing cob with a tarp would take months…

Wednesday the 13th, three construction workers, from a friend, are available. this is a chance not to be neglected
these guys are immigrants from a far away state (Chiapas) and are not concerned with the end of the year festivities. they are here to make some money and get back to their family.
so I brought them to my place, rented a cement mixer and we made COB

Cobing walls during the rainy season is not the best,
however, the strong and dry winds from the northen deserts are frequent during this season.

it is a gamble, I take…

in fact the very first day is raining
But the wall does not fall apart and the next day is sunny!

The construction goes very well

Sorry, I forgot to take photos on the very rainy days, because we had had three days with hail.
Winds are tonic, thanks for fresh air
That night temperatures were around 28 degrees F
A pipe exploded

Anyway the construction continued and finally the workers went back to their boss

With my little cousin, Coco, and friend, Mario, we managed to finish the ceiling beams and finish cobing using a tarp like the old days

when I realized the strength of my foundations, I decided to build a two story building, and made the walls two feet thick
the first floor ceiling is temporarily waterproof and the second one will wait until May to be built.
this way, for the same foundation and roof surface
I’ll have two rooms
we are wery proud of our three weeks build up
“stand up
little clay house,
a hand full of men sculpted you for the centuries to come.
you are not fragile,
but ecological,
comfortable, and soon, welcoming.”

Indoor casa de barro

the fire place is indeed an important piece of cob sculpture.
I follow scrupulously the Rumford design by shaping the inside part using a foam board that will be easily scraped out later
the result is an efficient chimney

for the final touch, indoor plastering, I tried several formulas until I got it right.

mixing white sand, white kaolin clay, local red clay, casein paint and flour paste—I reached a soft, velvet, clear surface

the reciprocal roof combined with the long column of the chimney have given me greater satisfaction than I had expected. with little fire, the heat is intense and the smoke is sucked up straight out of the room.

here is the ceramic bowl for my odor free compost toilet, fired in my neighbors oven

there is a stained glass window made with cob, which I started over a flat surface with a metal frame and sticky cob

Sunday, January 28, 2007

bread & pizzas

in late november:
from left to right,
Ana, my wife Analila and cousin Natalia,
aren’t we happy? celebrating Analila’s birthday and having an aperitif at “Adobe Guadalupe” with Mr. Miller one of the 10 best wineries in the valley,
and, of course,el chef was cooking for our first party at my place: “casa de barro” rancho El Mogorcito my grandsons Sean and Cedric, daughter Laurence and son-in-law, Brad from England, visiting me and enjoying making real pizzas

the proofing cabinet is indispensable for raising the bread without drying

finely the crusty whole grain bread will come out just right

I use only my natural levin to raise my tasty bread as well as for my gourmet pizza

every Wednesday, it is time for me to deliver two dozen pizzas to my cousin, Natalia’s farmer’s market

Oudoor kitchen & clay oven

My iron smith is also an artist and understand very quickly my idea of design

My kitchen was operational long before finished

following Kiko Denzer’s tips for making your own cob oven, I did not have any trouble
I built up the base entirely with cob, since I lacked stone

the mound on the left is a proofing cabinet to create an enclosed, lukewarm space to allow the bread to rise

the refractory bricks lay on a sand bed

this wet sand dome served as a mold for shaping the inside space volume and was scratched out later on
sometimes, I have people passing by, helping me around…making cob
Ana,who quickly took of her shoes and stepped into the mud

The two 5 inch thick cob layers, first with gravel and second with lite volcanic stones and plenty straw for isolation

the stove has been sculpted inside the cob counter top

my neighbor ceramicist Ivette, gave me boxes of tiles pieces leftover which I glued with plaster containing extra clay and horse manure.
I used a small amount of cement paste, from home depot, to seal the tiles.

After the first wood and cob door burnt, I had to replace it with a heavy metal and cob door

my oven has been described as sensual, and it is a hot piece of my complex

pizzas can be cook from 2 to 10 minutes on a 2 hours period without reloading the oven with wood