Winternship Jan 5 – Feb 5, 2022

Winternship Jan 5 – Feb 5, 2022 1920 2560 Strawbale Studio

The 2022 Winternship was a wonderful month, as Ashley Watry came to learn natural building skills to help in her process of creating a natural cottage in Wisconsin.
Her focus was on Thatching, Round Pole and Design.


See the full 2022 Winternship PHOTO ALBUM here.

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Ashley Watry’s Winternship Reflection:

In January 2022, I participated in a one-on-one winternship with Deanne at the Strawbale Studio to learn thatching and round-pole framing.  While I walked away with the skills I wanted to learn, I also walked away with deep nourishment for my life in ways unexpected.  Learning natural building skills and integrating them into my body has been a heartfelt longing and desire of mine.  Leaving the routine of home life and entering into the process and journey of learning these skills left me feeling connected to myself and my longing and empowered to move forward in birthing my natural building dreams into creation.  I found myself to be capable in unexpected ways, and found my hands and body cooperating in a way that felt natural and easy.

Being held in the container of the winternship with Deanne, I felt my creativity open up in ways I’ve been longing for but hadn’t yet felt connected to.  I enjoyed the inspiring energy, and feel strengthened and encouraged by my winternship experience.  I also had the time and space to connect with my own heart and find fresh personal clarity, which I value deeply.  I also deeply value the intimacy Deanne and I were able to share regarding our personal life experiences throughout the month.  We both greatly enjoyed delving into our dreams together in the morning time, and enjoyed depth in conversation on important topics of heart, mind, body, and relationship.  I think we also both really enjoyed all the great food and how easy and natural it felt to eat and live with each other.

I was so ready and ripe for the winternship, and left with feelings of appreciation and gratitude for my time, and with vigor and motivation to apply the skills I learned.  Heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Deanne, to myself, and to Life!



Orientation to buildings, grounds, Winternship Program.
Strawbale Studio Booklet of Handouts

Design: designing with the sun & activities, strategies., Flemming Abrahamssons cottage++
Design Charette on Ashleys Cottage Plans with Shane, Levi, Matt & Deanne in the Strawbale Studio after supper.
Foundations: site considerations, rubble trench, insulated platform on ground
Natural Building Materials Continuum ~ Geological through water & Biological options.
Decision-making Continuum ~ assessing the variety of impacts of our building choices.
+.Other classes, see below.

PROJECT: Ashley’s Cottage Model-making
A scale model was constructed, exploring wall structure with cob, then using lashing to put together a round pole frame. Ongoing design development included: balcony, ladder, window seat. Cob scale-model of stove, paper patterns of furniture.
Lashing Class: Skill ~ Japanese Square Knot practiced on sticks, then applied to Model House Frame, below.

ROUND POLE: Class ~ Principles + concepts, attachment options, types of notches,

PROJECT: “ROUND POLE BALCONY RAILING” ~ posts, beams & brace + 2 Wooden Mallots.
Designing the project~ sizes, types of notches, timber list.
Felling the Maple Tree for the project.
Skills:choice of tree & situation. Felling principles: where tree lands, drawing the cuts, saftey. How to cut felled tree into pieces.
Tools: Battery Chainsaw saftey & skills, maintenance.Support from Shane & Levi.

Making Round Pole Joints:
Skills: Debarking, “reading the log”, making reference lines, notch strategies, strategy for drawing a flat bottom on a post. using a variety of lap joints, making & installing wooden pins (pin blanks, draws have to octagon /round), rounding the edges of the lap joint, make/remove pin wedge, remake 2 pins. Sharpen drill bits.
Tools: draw shave, shaving horse, saw horse. Bungie cords, saw, hatchet, chisel, slick, wooden mallet, level, snap lines, battery “driver drill”, drill bits.

Lap Joints:
Practice on carrot, then use for tie beam & brace on Balcony Project. Mortise & Tenon joints seen and discussed on the building tour.
Saddle Joint 
Skills: how to scribe a log using a compass and cut a saddle joint in the cut end of a post. We made a saddle joint + description of how to apply it “pole to pole” like a log cabin.

Thatching ClassTHATCHING: Class, Tour, Demo + Application on a Practice Frame.
Reed Harvesting: 2 trips & 8 bundles collected.Skills: hand-harvest reed, use a “cradle” to measure amount of reed, tap bundle down, tiebundle with a Millers Knot, trim off length to 5′ and remove seed heads, transport home in the car and store in a “reed tipi”. Tools: serrated sickle, measuring cradle/jig.
Tools: serrated sickle, measuring cradle/jig.
Reed Application: Thatching a “wee frame”.
Skills: hand-harvest reed, use a “cradle” to measure amount of reed, tap bundle down, tie bundle with a Millers Knot, trim off length to 5′ and remove seed heads, transporthome in the car and store in a “reed tipi”.
Tools: Leggat / tamper. Rachet Tool, .04 stainless steel wire, wooden pins + needle, wire cutters.
Thatching Videos
British & Danish: Explanation & demos of 3 types of thatching materials/techniques, saftey & repair considerations. Modern Danish thatching: Tools, round needles, techniques of attachment, thatching valleys, repairing bird damage, Oak & Oat style.

SCULPTURE CLASS for the public. Jan 29, 2022 1-5p. 7 participants + Ashley & Deanne. Proceeded by a 2 hr tour for 4 people.
     Skills:  How to identify & make and earthen mix, tips on sculpting and finishing.

Wood Carving class – learn and practice whittling techniques
Ladder Lashing class– make a 1 foot model ladder, learning the knots. Repair the W. Wing ladder.
Mallot-making – round ash pole. Skills: reference lines, saw, hatchet & Chisel, sanding & wood burning initials & year
Cob Sculptures: Ashley makes scale model wood stove , 2 sculpted faces, 2 labyrinths
Leather Barettes: Ashley makes 2 leather & wood barrettes + starts maple tree carving.

RESEARCH & Videos, Handouts
Research: Round needles & reed maps in WI. Round Pole designs, including a “round house”.
Research: Thatching valleys, dormers, design, ridge eave, shaving horse designs.
Handouts: Strawbale Studio Booklet + wood hardness, ladder lashing, Girlscout lashing booklet, Round pole projects.
Eric’s video with Athena Steen & plaster additives. (DB & Eric)

Dream-sharing – most mornings. Resource book: Creative Dreaming. Patricia Garfield
Authentic Relating – Ashley shares basic principles, Games, story & online resources
Compassionate Communication — Deanne shares basic principles of Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

Mathew McCoul visits 1/29/2022. Talks with Shelby, stays for supper. Matt tells about his Permaculture Design project/ job.
Shelby & Aishia visits from Traverse City, MI – attending the Sculpture Workshop.
Alex & Danielle visit and Tour 1/27/2022 (potential intern)

Suppers in Strawbale Studio by woodstove : Shane & Levi, Mathew, Ashley, Deanne.
Corn & cheese, tortillas – wheat and corn, meatball soup. Kitcheri. Many yums Pumpkin Curry.

Conversations: innie & outie, NVC + AR, relationship variations. Dark Shadow, Bright Shadow. Creativity. Static & the Dynamic. Balance (vs Boundaries)
We watch the funny 8 min video on british language ~ Fry & Laurie
Deanne & Tree talk by phone.
Local: shopping at Kroger, Meijer. Walking on the land. CT processing.

Car Battery – Ashleys car doesn’t start. DB/ AW research, jump start, try trickle charger, Then enlist Shane and Levi who buy new battery, install, warranty. Jan 10-12.
Covid – db tests positive Jan 6. 10 day quarantine. No symptoms.
Ashley gets a negative test results from before trip. 1/14/22 Both  Db / Aw negative on home test
1/14/2022 Daniel and Ashleys sister have covid. DB has nosebleed.
Belle the dog, dies and is buried above the waterfall.



It was a rich and meaningful month as we practiced harmony with each other and with Nature.  Ah. A Life-long Process.