Tag Archives: straw

Frank does detail work

Frank does detail work by bartswindow
Frank does detail work, a photo by bartswindow on Flickr.

Frank a photographer and straw bale builder does some detail work on the smaller bench
The Second day of workshop went smoothly like the first.
This week we will do test coats to get the sand clay mix right, we are getting a lot of surface cracking. It’s hot and dry and windy which makes it a challenge to slow the drying down enough.
We had a good crew all day and a shift change around lunch like the first day.
Next weekend promises to be as much fun as this weekend come by any time after 9:00 e mail for directions etc

The Wall by the numbers

Well in looking back at the wall, it ended up taking about as long as I originally estimated on my first guess. I talked myself in to thinking we could do it faster, but it became obvious early on that 2 of us couldn’t lay up the foot a day I had hoped for, we need to add at least one more person to make this efficient. The day we had 3 of us out there, with a big pile of sifted materials, we got the foot lift done in one day.

We ended up putting about:
300 man hours into this project or about 10 man hours per linear foot for a cob pile 6 feet tall, and 2 feet wide, 14 cubic yards in total area, approximately 1/3 to one half straw by volume,
with 2 pressed finish coats and a linseed oil smear.

The materials ended up being a little lower than I expected. Next time I’ll have all the adobe mix delivered, or have all the earth works done and materials sifted, prior to starting the wall.  The total materials ended up costing about $500.00 or $6.00 per linear foot.

  • Quick Crete for Footer 35 – 60 lb sacks $104.00
  • Straw $55.00 5-6 bales would do it, we ended up with that many left over from 12 bales we had delivered and a lot of it in the basins and just lying around.
  • Adobe mix, we ended up getting over half of what we used from Pioneer landscaping 8 tons delivered for $260.00, Rhiwena dug the other half in catchment basins up slope from the wall
  • One gallon of linseed oil for final smear coat

What I would do different:

I would have at least 3 people on this size of a job. It would make the whole flow smoother.

I’d have all of the materials sifted and ready whether dug on site, prior to the wall starting, or brought in, the cost of labor to harvest on site is much higher than the cost to have it brought in. I found that what Pioneer calls top soil I would call adobe mix that needs a little sand. It was $25.00 a ton with a $60.00 delivery charge.

I would use some kind of flexible form for the footer. Flashing cut in to 6 ” strips and rebar stakes might work.

We will see how this weathers the monsoons. I intend to go out and put one more smear coat on after letting it set up for about a month. I sloped the top a lot and gave it a short drip edge. I expect to see some deterioration during monsoons but nothing that can’t be kept up with.

This job was fun, difficult at times, but fun. We were all happy with the end result.

Curvilinear wall is taking shape

The Wall is nearly five feet tall.Taller than Ram Das the be here now cactus, so named for repeatedly bringing Rhiwena in to the moment.

The next steps will be prepping for the cap getting the final shape, and level, to the top of the core and smoothing out irregularities on the sides. The closer to finish the shape of the core the better. The scratch and finish coats require sifted materials, we want to use as little of these as possible.


Joe came up and helped a day, and learned how to do the mixes, and build up the core.

Having a third person to help with mixes made all the difference. The pace is much smoother and we got to catch breathers. This is the first day we got to the one foot of lift per day pace I wanted to be at from the beginning.