2016 Winternship Welcome Letter

2016 WINTERNSHIP at the  Strawbale Studio   updated 12-26-2015


 COURSE DESCRIPTION   & Scheduled Events  ~   Page 1 

This four-week Course will include

Thatching workshop: demo and some hands-on, reed collection) Tools & Skills: rachet pull, thatching needles and pins, stainless steel wire, manila cord, vertical & horizontal leggat. Construct a simple frame, attach reed, tap up.  Projects: Thatched frame for Intern Cabin.  Reed/cattail or oatstraw Ridge of Kids Cottage.

Reed Collecting   4 hrs once or twice a week.  Tool use: Japanese Sickle, bundle jig. Harvest, bundle, store reed.

Foundations:  Tour/Principles of foundations on the land.  Research & discuss others. KKC.

Round Pole framing, the basics – workshop. (Make a Screen with round pole/reed, lash/notch

Tool use: Hatchet, Ax, saw, Shaving Horse, Draw Shave, Chisel. Harvest trees, debark, notch, make wooden pins, drill and notch.  Model-making, Round Pole Designing. Pallette frame.

Rocket Stove,Earth Oven, Rocket Cooker & Compost Furnace / design principles, brick mockup.

Earth Plaster & Sculpting workshop.  Help select & design the area that will plaster during workshop.

Skills: Sawing, Screws, Measuring, Sharpen Tools, Processing Fibers for earth plaster. Build & use a Sawbuck. Use a Shaving Horse, make wooden pins. Debark wood with Draw Knife.

Tour of Site, Buildings & Composting Systems.

Cob ~ Make bricks and small model during rocket stove & plaster workshops.

Strawbale – Design Class, practice retying bales & Earth Plaster layers on mini or full bale.

Design principles applied to a future project on site or your choice.

Class Sessions on Natural Building Design & Principles 1-2x /week ~ based on buildings on-site.

Foundation, Framing,Wall Systems, Site Assessment & Solar Design.

Pattern Language & designing by the clock from Hand-Sculpted House.                                                         Strawbale Construction based on Chapter 3 of the Earth Plaster Book.

Compost Heat Furnace.

Hobbit Sauna ~  fire it up.  (Opt. Rounds for flooring, doors in, build S door. Set up sleeping loft.)

Optional Opportunities listed on page 3.


Scheduled Events

January 4, 2016 Monday arrival            WINTERNSHIP ORIENTATION at 2 pm.

January 9/10, 2016                                 THATCHING Wksp Sat 10-5p / Reed Collect Sun 10-3p

January 13, 2016 Wed 630p                   Oakland County Permaculture Meetup in Clarkston

Jan. 16 & 17, 2016 Sat. & Sun. 9:30-5   ROUND POLE Framing ~ The basics.  Workshop.

Jan. 23 & 24, 2016 Sat. & Sun. 9 :30-5 ROCKET STOVE Workshop

Jan 23, 2016                                            FULL MOON 6p Tour. 7p POTLUCK, 8p Bonfire/ music

Jan 30 & 31, 2016 Sat. & Sun. 9 :30-5   EARTH PLASTER & Sculpting Workshop

Change march 6 on website for spoon carving.



Natural Buildings on site ~  Strawbale Studio, Kids Cottage, Retreat Cabin, Spiral Chamber.

Heat Devices ~ Rocket Stove Heated Bench, Rumford Fireplace Outdoor Rocket Stove Cooker. Hay Box Cooker, Solar Cooker, Bio-lite Stove, Compost Furnace.

Natural Foods – from the local region, Goat milking at the neighbors, Fermenting & Foraging.  Sauerkraut and injira sourdough wraps. Shitake Log Fruiting & Harvest, Acorn Processing & eating. Composting ~ several types

Resource Library

Extensive books on Strawbale, Cob, Thatching, Herbs & Foraging, and much more.

Videos on sustainability & natural building (optional) ~ such as Ben Law – Round Pole Framing. Strawbale Solution, Mud, Hands – A House. Alone in the Wilderness. Building Codes for a Small Planet. Simondale Low Impact Home for Living in the Future.

INTERN ORIENTATION   Jan 4, 2014           ~      Page 

Intern sign in.  Saftey. Skills wanted, offering.

Tracking Activities / Design Notebook.  Personal Goals.

Clear the Path.  Food to use / to buy / cooking/cleanup list.

Indoor / Outdoor / Worktrade activity list

Worktrade & Intern responsibilities

Worktrader sheet & areas of focus.

Days off, Meetings

Personal Projects.

Schedule for the Course ~ what will be covered each week.


Daily Schedule

Breakfast 8 am. (Breakfast prep at 7:15 a)

Morning check in’s at 8:30a. (Day + 2)

Morning Activity  9 – 12 p

Lunch hour. On your own.

Afternoon Activity Class Session 2 – 5:30  (Supper prep 5p)

Supper 6 – 7p

Track activities/check off.

Evening – Open or Scheduled Activities & “Sharing Our Stories” 30 min.


Weekly Schedule

 Wed am – All Team Clean – Beauty & Order, Recyle

Weekly Meeting (Week + 2)

Weekly Work trader List

Weekly house responsibility

Schedule 2 days off per week

Thursdays – Movie Night / Sharing experiences, slides, travels: mud bums & more.

Worktrade Schedule:  Three 3 hour blocks per week. (9:30 – 12:30 or 2:30 – 5p).

or 1 day a week +.  Intern can do independent projects during that time.  DB do office work.

Cooking & Household
maintenance shared and recorded on a chart.  Guidelines,  Beauty & Order.  What are our needs?

Deanne will have Office Hours Tues & Thurs. 10 – 2p.  Time with Wintern, will be at least 4 hours per day/ 5 days a week.  (Activities & Classes)

Internship: $950 per month (or early-bird discount of $850 prepaid 1 month in advance) includes room & board plus all training and workshops at the Strawbale Studio land with Deanne Bednar and invited guest teachers during the time of your stay.

½ pay Work Trade $475 per month (or early-bird discount of $425 prepaid 1 month in advance) For those who choose to help support the Strawbale Studio Infrastructure in exchange for a reduced rate, several Work trade positions are available. 10 hr/wk would be applied toward a given area such as Outreach/ Office, Building & Grounds, Gardening or Cooking/Household. The rest of the time you would join in the learning and activities of the Internship Program. Includes room, board and all materials.


            OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES & Worktrade Options below.        Page 3  


Cob Model-making or designing of a structure on site (Intern Addition on the Red Shed, InternTimber frame loft in the West Wing, Earth Oven Surround ) or project of your choice. Model-making of a Round Pole Frame.

Skype call with Chris McClellan on Code & Working with Professionals and/or Rocket Stoves to heat the house.

Research/design an indoor Rocket Cooking Stove or Rocket Mass Heater / wood stove for main house/ RS Boilers to heat a radiant floor.

Round Pole and Lashing:  Harvest poles & build a small project such as Screen for E wing/ kitchen.  Earth Plaster Sample Tests ~  using egg shell, powdered milk additive, egg white/yolk, different starches, test penetration & strength of oil – hemp & linseed (hot/diluted). Make sample tests for Retrofitting with natural materials: experiment with slip straw and paper clay.  Create a Strawbale Studio Certificate reflecting basic skills learned.  Create a framing pallet for measuring & cutting Round Poles. Cut wood rounds for the Sauna heat room floor. Complete the Sailboat Root Cellar:  research criteria, complete, set up and use.  Build a Loft Ladder for the Hobbit Sauna.

LIVING SKILLS & ARTS: Soak Shitake log. Cording with Dogbane. Make homemade liquid soap. Harvest grapevine & construct an LED lights sculpture in East Wing.  Set up tempe- making using Kerry Gados / Sandor Katz model. Permaculture discussion of this land with Jared Bogdonov-Hanna. Permaculture: visit Oakland University’s New Greenhouse at the Student Organic Farm with Jared Bogdonov-Hanna. Apply hemp oil to area by front door. Tool Sharpening. Acorn processing.  Hire Mark to offer a spoon carving class.  Fire-starting Dick Hogan / Peter McCreedy contact. Make a froe for splitting firewood out of an old mower blade. Jug Tarr. Woodsplitter for firewood.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR:  Yoga, here or at Hamsa on Tuesdays 7:15p. Other: fieldtrip to DETROIT ( Michael Mallon & Pamela, Emily B. Greg & Maina, Spalding Court, Emily B., Green Garage, Red Door Gallery & Speak Easy. Peter McCreedy’s Willows Outdoor Education Center in Columbiaville (4500 sq. ft. Strawbale Structure.  Oakland University Winter Greenhouse. etc.  Celebration supper for Wood Storage construction team. Earth Oven Pizza party.



Construction & Repair ~ Windows in intern cabin. Cover hole in Open Pole Barn.  Metal and plastic.  Maintain tools and sifting screens.  Get battery generator working? Fix front door knocker (30 m) Research hand grinder on Ebay…or get mine working.  Sauna hot room.  Finish ~ ceiling, stove & pipe installation. Fire it up ! Construct a Sawbuck (Timber Horse) http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Sawbuck-for-Cutting-Firewood. Construct a Carving Stand (Mark do a sketch). Fix Shaving Horse.  Sharpen Tools, Make nesting earth sifting Screens.

Household  ~ Recycling: Process worm composter, Kitty Litter – clean daily and change out weekly  (3 hr/wk)  Strawbale Studio, Clean & oil logs (temperature – do day of full moon, and heat studio

Grounds ~ Firewood. Firewood ~ harvest, collect, help split (Jug can bring his splitter over). Pruning shrubs and fruit trees. Rocket Stove, fire up and track process. (before Round Pole or Rocket Stove workshop) Ed.  Refill Sawdust for Composting Toilet (wheelbarrow load from pipeline). Recycle Electronics to Habitat ReUse Store. Recycle Electronics to Habitat ReUse Store. Tool Sweep person or rotation.  Check in. Harvest wood from Fairy Forest.  Split, store on north side of intern cabin. Pallets. Find get here.  ReStore Center. Electronics.  Haz Waste.  Metal Recycle to Tom.  Plant Garlic.  Hay Bale Gardening.  Sheet Mulching. Crab Apple are. Sheet Mulch.

Office ~ Data input – participant list update , Outreach, Blogger (no supper prep/cleanup?), Activity List & Photography. Scan Thesis. Video thatching process, reed collection and thatch application  (Some at the workshop, but mostly at a separate time.)  Organize work, coordinate work-trade, other. (Jo from Cob Cottage).

Team – plan meal, prep meal, activities & vibes, materials / logistics. (Emily B – Possibility Alliance.)  Flicr, photo stream, Strawbale Studio U tube channel.


                                                        SCHEDULE CHART      Page 4  

Week 2015 Weekly FOCUS Weekly ACTIVITIES subject to change J Workshops


Week 1 Jan 4 DESIGN & THATCHING Orientation: schedule, expectations, buildings, land, materials, household. FIOT.

Natural Building: Study Foundations. Prep for Thatching Workshop: Harvest Reed & Round Poles. Take apart existing Intern frame & re-lash. Reed Collection.   Classes ~ Foundations: Tour, principles, research + Natural Building Design


Sustainable Living Skills:  Composting Systems on the land. Knot tying/lashing. Fermenting: start sauerkraut & Injiria Wrap.


Jan 5 Yoga Tues 7p (optional)

Jan 7  Movie Nite Thurs. DB slideshow. NBC Review.

Jan 9 Sat. 9:30 -5p Thatching Workshop

Jan 10 Sun.10 – 3p Reed collection

Week 2 Jan 11 FRAMING & WALL SYSTEMS Natural Building:  Thatching, continue with project. Prep for Round Pole Workshop (including harvesting & debarking poles, sharpening tools) Class ~ Wall System & Framing options.  Option: Visit Willows, SB outdoor education center.


Sustainable Living Skills:  Reed Collection.

Fermenting – Kombucha, Water Keifer, Sour Dough Wraps, (Sunflower Sprouts)


Jan 11 Day off

Jan 12 Yoga Tues 7p Jan 13  PC  Wed 6:30p Permaculture Meetup in Clarkston

Jan 14 Movie Nite opt.

Jan 16 & 17 Round Pole Workshop 9:30- 5p

Week 3 Jan 18 HEAT & INSULATION Natural Building:  Sauna completion. Classes on Natural Building tbd.  Design Round Pole project, make a model / construct Fairy Frame. Visit Timberframer, Jim.


Sustainable Living Skills:  Cob mini bricks, using rolling pins and boards, also by hand.  Dimensions similar to real brick. Make a brick model to test.  Test carbon monoxide. Reed Collection


Jan 18 Day off.

Jan 19 Tues 7p  Yoga

Jan 22 Movie Nite Simondale.

Jan 23 & 24 Rocket Stove Workshop 9:30 – 5p

Jan 23 FULL MOON Potluck+

Week 4 Jan 25 EARTH PLASTER & COB Natural Building:  Rocket Stove Design for Main House.  C mcC.  Make cob models, Prep for Plaster Class. Choose site & scope. Classes on Natural Building tbd. Subsoil into House when weather permits. Process fibers / adhesion coat for earth plaster. Help teach class.

Sustainable Living Skills: 

Sustainable Living Skills:  Eat sauerkraut. Harvest shitake, acorn, Reed Collection


Jan 25  Day off

Jan 27 Yoga Tues 7p

Jan 29 Movie Nite

Jan 31 & Feb 1 Earth Plaster & Sculpting Workshop 9:30 – 5p


Week 5 Feb 1   Natural Building:  4 step Earth Plaster process on a mini-Strawbale. Complete Projects.& all Burning Questions. Pack.

Sustainable Living Skills: Cording.  Reed Collection.  Other TBD.


Feb 3 Earth Oven Pizza & Completion Ceremony.

Feb 4 Thursday Departure


                                              WELCOME LETTER          ~   Page  5  


Welcome to the upcoming Winternship !  I am looking forward to us being together, learning and sharing !

We are a crew of 8 ~ Veneta, Kathryn & Kelly & Allison who will be with us Friday through Sunday’s, Doug, Jacob, Petar and myself. You are each fabulous and I expect we will really enjoy being together !

Here is some information to help you plan what to bring, and a few questions re food diet and travel plans.  I will be emailing a more detailed packet early next week which will include the specific things we will be learning, the daily schedule and such.


Arrival Times: Orientation will be at 2 pm on Monday January 4th. You can arrive Sunday afternoon, or anytime Monday morning. Those who arrive early can settle in and help out a bit with worktrade hours, or take some down-time after your travels.

Arrival Plans: Contact Deanne with your expected time and mode of arrival.  Let me know if you need a pickup and we will try to coordinate that. If your plans change let me know by phone message, email or text.

Directions to get here  Click link.   2691 Noble Rd. Oxford, MI 48370

Phone: home 248 628 1887  cell 248 496 4088  I text 🙂  Email: ecoartdb@gmail.com

Food:  What is your prefered diet?  Allergies?  FYI, there is a cat that lives in the house.  If you are allergic we need to talk about that. 🙂

.  A basically local & organic vegetarian fair will be provided (veggies, rice, beans, soup).  Fermented foods will be made while you are here such as sauerkraut and sourdough wraps.  Yum.  I am getting hungry typing this.

Optional: Bring special food if you want.   You can label it and keep it for yourself, or share.


Winter Wear:  Bring snowpants, or insulated pants or coveralls if you have them….or some layers like 2 pair of sweat pants….warm sox, warm and waterproof boots if you can.  Snowmobile boots are quite warm. Loose & insulated boots keep feet warm.

We will be harvesting Phragmite reed grass about 4 hours at a time, 1 or 2 days a week, to gather the reed needed for our demonstrations and this year’s projects.  So be ready to keep warm.  Wool is always awesome.  Wool sweaters, gloves, sox, layers.  It may rain, so rain gear is good.  I have some things here, but if you can, bring your own. We won’t reed collect in the rain, but we might be outside, getting from one building to another.

Supplies; Bring Flashlight and a water bottle. Notebook if you can.  Bedding & Toiletries:  Bring bedding & towels if you can. If not, I can provide them, no problem.  There are sheets and pillows, blankets, etc here if you want to use them.  At the end, it is appreciated if you wash and return sheets and towels you use.

Optional: bring musical instruments, sketches or designs for any upcoming projects, earth subsoil from your land to test.  Camera.

Please do not bring illegal drugs or alcohol. I feel legally protective of Strawbale Studio and want everyone to feel safe on site.


No tools are needed, but it would be useful for you to bring tools for the Round Pole framing: 1/2″ to 1″ wood chisel, hatchet, drill & bits, snap line, measuring tape, draw knife, saw.  You could bring them in a 5 gal bucket, each tool labeled with your name.  If you don’t have them, that’s ok.

Most of all, bring your

        Joy of Learning, good listening & sharing skills, and kind heart.  


Further reading:  Here are some things that might be of interest to you…

2014 Winternship Blog by Kirsten Pope,Wintern. 2015 Winternship Blog by Nana Ferdnance . Internship page for general things to expect.  The Hand-Sculpted  use is a good  resource book.