This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2023 WINTERNSHIP at the Strawbale Studio      Jan 5 – Feb 5, 2023                     p1  Course Description

This four-week Course includes Natural Building & Sustainable Skill Classes + Hands-on training:

THATCHING Workshop Demo + hands-on thatching & reed collection. Tools & Skills: ratchet tool, thatching needles, pins, stainless steel wire, manila cord, vertical & horizontal leggat. Use the existing frame, or construct a simple frame, attach reed, tap up. 

REED collection Use hand sickles to harvest, tie in bundles, transport & make a new reed tipi on N Meadow for storage.

ROUND POLE Workshop ~ Framing Basics  Harvest trees, debark, notch, make wooden pins, drill and notch joints.  Tool use: Hatchet, Ax, saw, Draw Shave, Chisel, mallot. Use a Shaving Horse, make wooden pins. Skills: sawing, use of pins & screws, battery drill, measuring, sharpening tools.  Intern Project:  W wing loft railing & lashed ladder + straw mattress.

Optional: make a set poles with demonstration notches, or build a frame model

FIRE Workshop  ~ basics of Rocket Stove & Earth Oven  Class: Rocket Stove design principles. Fire up and use Rocket Stove. Hands-on: Rocket Stove brick mockup, mix cob, earth mortar, insulation layer materials. Class: Earth Oven design principles. Hands-on: Earth Oven model, make cob. Fire up Earth Oven & make pizza. (See ex-Compost Furnace)

EARTH PLASTER & SCULPTING ­workshop  Help select & design the area that will plaster during workshop. Learn how to find, test, mix & apply earth plaster to interior walls.  Explore sculpting with Earth.  Skills: make Adhesion Coat,  use a variety of trowels, hawk, several finishing techniques.  Interns: application of 3 coat earth plaster process to a strawbale. Optional: Video: excerpts from Natural Paints & Plaster with Chris Magwood. Earth Floor video Sukita.

CLASS SESSIONS for Intern on Natural Building Design & Principles 1-2x /week ~ 2 hour class on each subject: Natural Building Continuum, Foundations. Framing, Wall Systems overview, Strawbale design principles & some hands-on experiences: practice retying bales & Earth Plaster layers on mini or full bale.  Site Assessment & Solar. Option: Make a design for a future project on site or your choice. Tour of buildings as they related to the subject.  Design: Pattern Language & designing by the clock from Hand-Sculpted House.  Strawbale Construction based on Chapter 3 of the Earth Plaster Book. 


Natural Buildings on site
 ~  Strawbale Studio, Kids Cottage, Hobbit Sauna, Retreat Cabin,
Heat Devices ~ Rocket Stove Heated Bench, Rumford Fireplace Outdoor Rocket Stove Cooker. Hay Box Cooker, Compost Furnace, Hobbit Sauna ! Solar Cooker (use in warm weather only) Composting ~ 4 types.     

Natural  & Local Foods ~ Sauerkraut & Injira sourdough wraps. Warm Weather Foraging, Mushroom harvest/ soak & fruit Shitake

Enrichment ~ NVC (Non-Violent Communication) / Compassionate Communication / Reflective Listening.  Visit East River Farm.  Integrate permaculture principles into our day/study. Optional Guest Teacher:  Jared Bogdonov-Hannah or Matthew McCoul on nutrient cycles on-site (biochar, wood ash, 3 types Compost, biomass, other) & integrating permaculture principles into our day/study.
Day-off options: Do your own thing.  Perhaps read, or Whittle & spoon carve. Study / design / model-making. Small round pole model. Bonfire, hang out in Strawbale Studio, sauna. Finish Worktrade hours. Visit local: 7 ponds Nature Center, Bald Mountain Recreation area, Detroit, etc. The Willows: 4500sq ft Strawbale Outdoor Educaiton Center, Chatsfield School, Lapeer, MI. Food:  White Horse Inn. Dryden.  Victorias, Oxford.  Sagebrush Cantena, Lake Orion.  20 Front St.  Kombucha & music venue.  

Browse the Resource Library 

Extensive books on Strawbale, Cob, Thatching, Herbs & Foraging +. Earth Plaster / Magwood. Videos on Sustainability & natural building, Ben Law – Round Pole Framing. Strawbale Solution, Mud, Hands – A House. Alone in the Wilderness. Building Codes for a Small Planet. Low Impact Home for Living in the Future. SBS slideshow Round Pole Movie trailer.          SCHEDULE  Subject to modification p2 Schedule

with the public. Dates to be adjusted to 2023. Sat & Sun 9-5p

Possible: Full Moon Jan 6, Permaculture Meetup date TBD.

Daily Schedule (proposed)

  • Yoga 7:30 a 
  • Breakfast prep at 8:00a- Breakfast 8:30a . 
  • Morning check in’s at 9:00a . (Day + 2)  
  • Morning Activity  9:30 – 12:30 p
  • Lunch break. On your own. 
  • Afternoon Activity Class Session 2 – 6p (Supper prep 5:30p)
  • Supper 6:30p 
  • Track activities/check off. 
  • Evening – Open or Scheduled Activities & “Sharing Our Stories” 30 min +
  • Quiet time: 10p  
  • Alternative:  Seva, service.  8 – 9:30.  Breakfast 9:30 – 10:00 Cleanup 10:30 Morning Check in.  11 – 12:30 Morning activity.  

Weekly Schedule

Weekly Meeting (Week + 2)

                 Weekly Worktrader List & House Hold Roles

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

                Schedule 2 days off per week (continue meal /cleanup, and worktrade if not done yet that week). or 1 day a week +. Intern can do independent projects during that time.  DB do desking.  

Thursdays – Movie Night / Sharing experiences, slides, travels .

Payment / Exchange: All students participate in the Classes & Hands-on Learning + room & board.

  • Internship: $950 per month (or $850 prepaid 1 month in advance) includes room & board plus all training + workshops at the Strawbale Studio with instructor Deanne Bednar.
  • ½ pay WorkTrade $475 per month (or $425 prepaid 1 mo. in advance) Several positions are available for those who choose to help support the Strawbale Studio Infrastructure in exchange for a reduced rate. 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, and all classes.

Deanne will have Desking Hours TBD.  Time with Wintern, will be at least 4 hrs/day, 5 days/wk.                                                                                                                                                   

P 3 –  Roles

Cooking & Household maintenance is shared by all and recorded on a chart.

This is not part of worktrade hours. Guidelines,  Beauty & Order.  What are our needs?

  • Cooking:  
    • 1 or more people scheduled.  Clean up after by those that don’t cook.  2-3 people.  
    • Make a schedule together for cooking & cleanup each week, adjusting as needed. 
    • Preferably use food that is on-hand, and in season.  Be creative.  Chart of diets.
  • Clean up :  Check in with each other before leaving room.
  1. Put Away person. Put away Dried clean dishes, and bring all dirty dishes to sink from table & counters. Wash counters & table. Sweep if you want.
  2.  Swasher. Wash dishes That ususally takes about the same time as the Put-Away Person
  3. Check in with each other before leaving room.
  • Household Roles – by week
    • Sweeping – kitchen, halls, bathrooms, east & west wing main room.  
    • Composting – Worm Compost, Outdoor Compost bucket, CT  (all, as needed. Check daily.)
    • Recycling & Landfill to curb across street on Sunday.  Bring in containers on Monday between 1&5p.  1x/week
      Landfill from bathrooms, kitchen.  Replace used plastic grocery bags.  If not every week, to courtyard for next week.
    • Specialty:  Kitchen cupboard doors cleaned, Kitchen/ Hall  Floor washed 1x per week


WORKTRADE  monthly, or rotate. 

  • Workshop support :  Setup ~ materials, classroom, parking, heating Red Shed, Cooking, greeters, organize space after. 
  • Reed: Harvest & store in tipi. Getaway Reed Tipi.  Sort bundle ties. Goal 50 bundles.
  • Grounds:  Firewood ~ forage, saw, split, stock structures. Prune. Clear bittersweet.
  • Teachers Assistant:  Help pre-plan, support Deanne during workshop / track timing. Report after workshop.
  • Construction & Repair: Tools, Chairs, maybe Construct a Chopping Stand / Shaving Horse. (Mark do a sketch). Boot repair?
  • Blogger:   Track all activities as an outline.  Do a blog with photos.  (instead of supper prep/cleanup?)
  • Office:  Data entry – Participant list, outreach. (Main data sheet, edit suggestions for internships, other.)
  • Tool Sweep:  oversees cleanup daily on work projects. Additional Household beauty & order.