La Capilla de Santa Maria, Hendersonville, NC

Can you see the oven in the back left?

This is a part of our crew

we saved the plastering for the experienced

We are ready for pizza!

I was invited to build a retained heat earthen oven (ie. pizza oven!) with the church community. What a fun and rewarding project for us all! Together we collected materials from site, including sand WAY up from the river below, clay from the hillside, and rock from around the site. It was quite empowering to provide such necessary materials for the project with no outside resources! Church members of all ages worked together on sunday afternoon's and some evenings throughout the week to get the job done. We had a lot of fun getting to know one another, as well as eating some really good food! Thanks for everyone who participated in the project! Pizza is ready!

A-B Tech Cob 101 class project

Learning to cob is fun!

We always thought we were too big for this? :)

urbanite foundation day

Natural Building Bench

Hammer time!

I was asked to teach an introductory natural building course this spring/summer as a part of the Continuing Education Department. The class is called Complete Cob: Natural Building 101, it continues to be offered throughout the year, with more advanced classes in the works. Together, the class and members of the Artisan Builders Collective, Matthew and Christina guest teaching built a cob bench outside the Construction Sciences Building main entrance. With an evolving brainstorm of ideas, we came up with a true "natural building" design: A hammer that morphs into a tree forming the back and arm rest of the bench. How appropriate!

Isaac Dickson Imagination Village

Align CenterSchooltime rock!

Melissa is adding a touch of beauty

ready for plants and paint, which is the students job.

plaster is ready, set, go!

I do not know what to say? :)

still no answers

One of 12 or so classes to help build

I was invited to Isaac Dickson Elementary in Asheville, NC, to get muddy again! This time we built two "imagination huts" in the K-2 playground area. All of the K-2 students participated in making cob walls of their new Imagination Village. This is the first piece of a bigger design of the Village, together with the huts there will be a living willow fence to define the village area, as well as a apple tree gazebo and other edible plants. All will be done by the students and school community. We had a real fun time in the mud this time around!

Effingham Central Community Mud

kids enjoying their bench

Gleaming and ready for plaster

We are the answer!

Our hands, our project

I was invited to Central Grade School in Effingham, IL, to play with the 3rd - 5th graders, all of them, 600+! The entire school took part in building a gazebo, with sculpted cob bench, and a "bus stop bench". The Gazebo is the beginning of a school garden/play space in the playground area. The bench is located at the schoolbus drop off and pick up. The students took part in all steps of the project. They painted the underside of the roof, helped haul the material(s), made the cob, and most importantly, they designed the sculpture. The greater Effingham community helped as well. Parents and teachers participated in the muddy fun, sheriff deputy's helped install the "street sign" shingles, local business's donated material(s) and the best part, they all did it together!


Carl Sanburg Elementary "All School Cob" Project

Look at all the beautiful colors!

Alli and Uncle Tony discuss the finer points of mud!

Mr. Francis' class are cobbin away!

Alli and Emma get right to it!
soon enough the kids will get to enjoy the new bench
click to view gallery

With a grant from the Jaeneke Foundation, the 1st through 3rd grade students at Carl Sanburg Elementary School and I are doing a cob installation. We will work together with teachers, community members, and school family volunteers to create beautiful natural building art on the school grounds!

For me, this is a homecoming of sorts. I grew up in Charleston, IL, in fact, several of my teachers and parents of my friends, still teach at the school. Coming home to share a little piece of me is quite exciting! I have invited my brothers to help, Pat is coming from Seattle, WA, Nick, up from SIU, and Tim and his family are in town, together with friends and family, we have had a cob stompin good time with the students.

We had a very successful week of work with the students! Over 600 students and a wonderful mix of community volunteers made the project a wonderful experience for everyone! Check out the Times Courier write-up about the project


Marx Backyard Cob Project

"kid cobbin"
click for gallery

Christina and I were invited to Nashville, TN, this summer to build a cob building in the Marx Families backyard. We spent 18 days with the family while we built the structure and we left with lots of new friends and a nice place to stay when we visit Nashville! We still have some work to do to complete the project, including the plaster work and we could use a good photo of the "planted" roof and bench that now sits in the porch area. I look forward to sharing the finished piece. :)

Buy's Family Compound "Sea Creature" Project

"save the cobbers"
click for gallery

The Buy's Family invited Meka and I to build a earthen oven in there yard. However, there yard is not just any yard, it is the neighborhood swimming hole and summertime hang-out. Now, with the help of Stephen, Zach, Rachel and Kate, it is the "Summer Nights Pizza and Brew"! We made an already fun spot, a fun spot with pizza and beer!