Friday, August 21, 2009

Fireplace renovations

As earlier reported, the cob wall in Dufferin Grove Park was scheduled for renovation this summer. Over a couple days in August, Jenny and I pulled apart and reassembled the urbanite foundation to fit the new shape, and then took the old cob, added fresh straw, and returned it to the wall, with the help – as always – of many volunteers.

Jenny has since been cleaning up the shape of the wall, adding overhangs, and plastering. I'm hoping the warm fall weather holds!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

NBCNY 2009

I spent another fabulous week in New York state this summer, attending the sixth annual Natural Building & Living Colloquium. This year I took the plunge and tried timberframing, which scares the bejesus out of me, what with its required accuracy and all. I have never attended a gentler, sweeter worksite than that presided over by Sarah Highland. My pathological fear of measuring pulled me away from the site eventually, but I'm feeling pretty pleased that I finally allowed myself to get introduced to timberframing. Thank you, Sarah.

The rest of the week found me working on the retreat cabin: making plaster test patches, learning how to use the hammer mill, pushing sodden horse poop through a screen (oh, wait, that was Eric, not me), prepping walls, and plastering. For the interior finish plaster, we used marble dust instead of sand; a smoother, more yummy plaster I have never worked with.

Other projects included:
  • A round strawbale/cob sauna, on the spot most recently occupied by a strawbale dome;
  • Taking another shot at building a green roof on the steep rake of the ceremonial building;
  • Cladding the guest cabin with century-0ld wooden siding reclaimed from a house in Buffalo;
  • Adding colourful plasters to the turtle oven and the kids' playhouse;
  • Wattle and daub birdhouses;
  • Lots of interesting workshops and talks;
  • Naps, music, and fire-tending.

There was so much rain throughout the week that when the last day dawned bright and sunny, we decided to work on that day too. After a productive morning, the entire group went for a dip in the lake, then we made our way to the arbour for the closing ceremony.

About a dozen of us stuck around to help wrap up projects and start cleaning up. As fun as the week had been, this was even more fulfilling, as we really got to concentrate on getting stuff done, as well as taking advantage of the extra time to play more music, take more naps, and eat more food. And visit.