2016 Winternship Activities List

2016 Winternship Activities List

2016 Winternship Activities List 150 150 Strawbale Studio


~ recorded by Veneta Mavrodieva


Working on rebuilding the A-Frame

Day 1 Jan 4, Mon. Arrival &  Introductions,Schedule for the month, tour of house, buildings and land.

Daily:  Shared meals, Morning check in and meeting to establish tasks for day + 2.

Day 2  Jan 5, Tues.  Classroom session on Foundations. Discussed Work Trade, self-organized.  Worktrade Activity block:  Worm Composter, Data Entry, Wood Harvesting & Chopping.   Four of us attended a Non-Violent Communication Meeting

Day 3 Tour of Foundations on all buildings on land.  Observations, Discussion.  First Reed Collecting Lesson in the field !

Day 4  Lashing Lesson. Meeting about the upcoming Weekend Workshop.  Tour of all Compost Systems.  Demo on firing up Rocket Stove.  (Prime, Vertical Feed, Types of wood)  Discussion: Drain Down pump and tour of Red Shed. Dismantled Thatching A Frame.  How to harvest wood, use draw knife to debark logs, practice lashing techniques.

Day 5  Day off.  Finish lashing A frame. The group was predominantly local this year, and had family engagements, so some students left during days off to go home.

Day 6 THATCHING WORKSHOP.  Introductions to group.  Tour of buildings and to Thatching. How to select reed, Tools, Types of Roofs, discussed living roofs, too.  Demo by Deanne on thatching on 1/2 scale A-frame.   How to attach bundles to purlins.  Harvesting saplings for sways & saplings for batton, practice thatching on outside A frame.  Hung out with Mary, made dinner, some folks stayed overnight.

Day 7 Workshop Reed Collecting cancelled due to ice storm.  Remaining group did a full scale Thatching Step-by-Step in the kitchen on a Frame !



Day 8 Monday – A day off !   A blizzard.

Day 9 Cutting Trees for Mallets for Round Pole Workshop.  Tree cutting demo by Jacob. Deanne: how to fell a tree, direction of fall, safety & clearing site around tree, notches, ropes, accuracy of felling. Cut tree, debark logs, sawed into 3 segments.  Tutorial on Sharpening Tools.  Basic Round Pole info.  How to snap Reference Lines, make basic 1/2 lap notch.

Day 10  Classroom Session on Designing a house.  Verb not Noun, Round Feet, Solar Design.  Activities.  Materials Continuum (local vs distant, etc) Advantages & Disadvantages of working with Natural Materials.  FIOT.  Mini-block Foundation Practice. Classroom Lesson on Round Pole Framing, Parts of the Roof.  Permaculture Meetup.  Brought Hay Box with use, and gave a mini-description to Meetup.  Seed Saving Exchange.

Day 11  Red Bellied Woodpecker 1st day.  Discussion on Pattern Language Book/ Concept.  Reed Collecting joined by Emily & Peter.

Day 12  Day off – Workshop Prep.  Ran errands, Shopping, Cooking for Workshop. Kelly & Venetta

Day 13  ROUND POLE WORKSHOP, lead by Mark Angelini.  Introductions, Talk about Round Pole. Advantages and Challenges.  Read the Log, Mark Reference Lines.  Tour of buildings, discussing different joints.  Red Shed: Classroom on different Joints.  In groups of 2: Make a Basic Notch, share with group.  Watch Ben Law Video. People stayed overnight. Tim & Sarah, Mark & Allison.

Day 14  ROUND POLE WORKSHOP  Day 2  Breakfast, Review, Demo on Mallet-making with a hatchet & Wooden Pegs using a Shaving Horse and Draw Knife. Wood Shelter – Hierarchy of size structure and Canteliever – round pole stronger.  Group Activity – making 3 different notches, share with group.  Butter Dish Joint, Mortice & Tennon, Lap Joints.  Some worked on Mallets when finished.  Sharing with group.



Day 15 & 16 Mon – Tues Days Off

Day 17   Classroom Session on Diagonal Lashing, Work Trade : Spitting Logs. visit Local Timber Framer Jim in 100 year old barn, saw workshop and a demo. Tillers International and Resources.

Day 18   Heather & Brian from Howell Nature Center assisted in/ learned Reed Collecting.  Work Trade Day in the Reed Field.  Luke arrived for tour and supper.  Vistor,Luke, Engineer from Flint, Background with Tillers International.  Kombucha, meat sampling session, evening conversation.

Day 19 The Hawk ! Birds on feeder hide !  Meeting for upcoming workshop, deep clean kitchen, Workshop Prep.  Harvest Dirt and Sand. Cooking !  Tool Shopping at Dixie Flea Market ! Veneta & Deanne: Agenda for Rocket Stove Workshop.

Day 20  ROCKET STOVE WORKSHOP.  Tim & Sarah again.  Introduction.  Evolution of Fire Devices, Circular vs Linear Culture.  How to light the fire.  Radiant Heat, Rumford Fireplace dimensions, read about fire in Mass Heater Book, Wood Stoves, Lit Rocket Cooker – compared to length of heating time on propane stove.  Red Shed, demo of lighting Rocket Mass Heater. Discussion/ Class during lighting. Dimensions of Combustion Unit. Mass, Insulation. Lunch.  Mockup of the Rocket Stove Combustion Unit. Break: Fire up the Earth Oven.  Lean-to Fire on a bigger log, then push it into the Oven.  Returned to build the Combustion Unit using dimensions on chart.  Lit it !  Full Moon Tour, Potluck (50 people, go-around before meal) , Bonfire & Social Evening.


Day 21 ROCKET STOVE WORKSHOP Day 2. Lavinia part 2 of workshop. Check in.  Alternative Cooking, Insulative Cooking, Japanese Cooker, Hay Box.  Read from Earth Oven book: Heat Transfer through Materials.

Red Shed.  Classroom Session on Earth Oven, Set up materials for MinI- Earth Oven build.  Began oven mud firing unit construction. Lunch. Finished Earth Oven containment dome.  Mix cob, mixed insulation mixes with sawdust, and straw. Demonstrated 2 different versions with Sawdust and one with Straw. Cut away door. Scooped out sand from dome.

Lavinia,shared her knowledge of pottery and the biggest wood-fired kiln in North America ! Kelly’s last day.

Day 22, 23 Days off.  Petars’  Adventars, to several local natural sites he loves,and eating out at Cantina Restaurant. We all went on the adventure !  Students read books from Resource Library.

Day 24  Sauna Assessment, Jacob gave a sharpening lesson. Work Trade, Splitting wood with maul. Maul splitting lesson.   Lashing Lesson, Collected horse manure for earth plaster and brought it in the house.  How to harvest and what to look for. Harvest logs for sauna loft ladder. Mid-term evaluation, dinner by candle, individual evening projects.

Day 25  Reed Collecting with Sam. Deanne did office part time.  Mid-term evaluation. Classroom Session on Wall Systems: Thermal Envelope, Insulation, Air Barrier, Air Fins, Orienting strawbales, load bearing, Wattle and Daub, CEB, Hemp Crete, Adobe, Cordwood.  External & internal walls.

Petars house for dinner !.

Day 26   Earth Plaster Workshop prep.  Schedule for workshop with Venetta. Sift fiber, sawdust, mix plaster, pick up guests at train stop. Starch paste, Adhesion Coat.  Ketchup Bread, Cooking. Long day.

Day 27  Day 1 EARTH PLASTER WORKSHOP.  If you could walk into a painting, that is what walking into an earthen building is like.  Demo on Starch Paste. Tour of Strawbale Studio & Red Shed. Discussed areas in house to plaster. Adhesion coat on boards.  Mini-plaster on wood boards, using trowels, discs. Leather hard, burnish and sponge finish.  East Wing, mixed plaster and cob, ratios, soil test, what to look for.  Sculpted with Cob and applied adhesion coat to our future plaster sites.  Video: Earth Plaster with Chris Magwood.


Day 28 Day  Reviewed how Cob & Earth Plaster samples came out. Q & A. Broke into Teams to mix and apply earth plaster and cob sculptures . Egg Tempra recipe: 1/2 volume of egg is apple cider vinegar, shake to emulsify, then add pigment.

Day 29  Reed Collect (Feb 1)  Allison & Kelly came over,  Massages. Appreciation Exercise

Day 30  Tues. Day Off  Group went to Oxford for breakfast, explored Toy Store. read to each other.

Day 31  Order & Beauty, Reed Tipi collapsed and we re-constructed it. Made Reed Video – in the field, Petar. We wrote notes of appreciation to each other on a sheet passed around. Last days for Kelly.   Doug and Kat to Yoga.  Venetta cooked fish, roasted vegies, chocolate. Watched Andy Goldsworthy video and rest of Plaster Video.  Bread Making: Cinnamon bread, Ketchup Bread.

Day 32 – Feb 4th. Made a ladder, installed it.  Lots of sawing & wood rounds. Made awesome Pizzas in the Earth Oven.  Read from our Gratitude Jar & had a Closing Ceremony !

Drum and chanting with natural building words.

Day 33: Friday After-Glo to Detroit !. Went to Yoga / coffee shop in Lake Orion. Green Garage in Detroit  for Lunch and Presentation, visited FOOD FIELD, saw their aquaculture, greenhouse, box house.  Lunch by Avalon Bakery , Toured Belle Isle, met with Nia, to Whole Food, then Sushi dinner, then talk at Dougs’ House sitting Condo.  Kat joined us.  Talked and deep check in.

Saturday: Deanne to Gaia singers, rest to Farmers Market to sell for Natures Pace Farm.



Classes on Foundations, Composting, Framing, Building & Site Design, & see below.

Workshops on Thatching & Reed Collection, Round Pole Framing, Rocket Stoves & Fire Devices, Earth Plaster and Cob.

Skills:  lashing, stacking blocks for foundations, harvesting trees, using a drawshave, worm composting – use & process.  Starch Paste, Adhesion Coat, Earth Plasters, Finish Plaster, Cob, Fire & Rocket Stove Dynamics, Stone Laying strategies. Notching tools & techniques. Draw Knife & Shaving Horse use. Harvesting & Debarking logs . Using a hatchet, Ax and Splitting Mallot.

Harvesting poles, learning lashing & making a Log Ladder.  Lashing & Constructing a Round Pole A Frame for Thatching.  Basic Thatching design and application techniques. Firing up and using a Rocket Stove Mass Heater, Rocket Stove Cooker, Rumford Fireplace and Earth Oven.

Free Time Fun: Drumming Lesson from Petar. Tool Shopping at Dixie Flea Market !  Petar’s Adventures to local nature spots. Yoga at Hamsa.  Meditation & yoga here, together.  Whittling & spoon carving.  Reading from the Resource Library.

Videos: Ben Law Round Pole. Chris Magwood, Earth Plaster. Andy Goldsworthy, making art with nature.

Green Tech Recyclers were utilized to recycle items from Strawbale Studio.  No fee, no address needed.