The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plaster samples (part three): a new mix applied to a bale

After testing our previous samples, the boys and I mixed up another batch and applied it to the other side of the test bale (actually, it’s half of a bale because I sawed it in two lengthwise to double the surface area for our samples). plaster sample on baleFor this mix we used 4 measures of sand, 5 measures of clay-dirt, four loose measures of chopped straw/hay, and enough water to achieve a nice consistency.

The surface of the bale to which we applied it had not been trimmed. So, it was quite rough. However, the mix was wet enough that we could press it into the bale quite well. The plaster sample is drying now. After it is dry, we’ll apply a second coat to it to see how well it adheres to the first. Applying the plaster by hand leaves a rough texture which is supposed to help the next coat to bond well with it.

It’s actually quite exciting to have the opportunity to use some of our own soil for the plaster on our walls. We hadn’t expected to be abtexture of the plaster samplele to do so – I was going to buy dry clay powder from a pottery supply dealer. I expect I’ll still buy some clay for the finish coat. We’ll use a white kaolin clay with some yellow pigment added. We’ll be figuring proportions out later.

If you ever get the chance, you ought to try putting some mud on a straw bale. It feels good in your hands, and it’s kind of fun.

I’ve been adding videos to my posts. I think there are things that can be understood and seen in a video which are hard to translate to text. So, here’s a video of mixing and applying our plaster sample:

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