A straw bale home built twenty years ago in a small town of Missouri. Twenty years ago! And the house is in amazing condition. I wanted to make this into a blog post to show some examples of my experiences there. Lori & Rex welcomed me with open arms and I enjoyed working alongside Lori to hear about her natural building experience.
I found this opportunity on workaway.info. It is a great site for traveling and wanting to get some experience while doing that. I used it as a way to gain more natural building experience as I made my way back to California after the extended holidays. Lori & Rex started twenty years ago on their lovely straw bale home. Friends and family came from all around to help build. With all the busyness of life there are still things that need to be finished within the home. I am sure we can all relate to that. While I was there I helped use cob as infill over the entrance to the bathroom.
We used two parts sand to one part clay for the cob mix then adding straw. The bottles were used as decorative features to let light in. We also used the cob mixture for decorative vines on the surface of some of the walls. I was so happy to enjoy some natural building during the winter months!
We also used the mix for an earthen plaster without the straw and by adding some more water. On the 2x4 pieces of wood we used burlap soaked in clay slip. Clay slip is just clay soil and water mixed thoroughly to get a slippery consistency. We stapled this to the wood. However you can also make a wheat paste and add it to the clay slip to make more of a glue-like material.
Lori & Rex did a lovely cob oven workshop. They used 1 foot of lava rock and 4 inches of sand in the base. Followed by the firebrick. They also used a metal can for the chimney, which they advised me was not a good idea. The metal expanded, creating the crack you see in the front. Another good thing to consider is having enough straw within your insulation layer for the oven. Straw helps the heat to not escape. There is a great book that I use as a reference called: Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer & Hannah Field.
I enjoyed learning about how Lori and Rex had to build for their specific climate. Each site is different along with its specific micro climate. Do many tests to figure out what works best for your environment. If you have any questions, I would be glad to answer :)