On Thursday we arrived with a warm welcome from Deanne embraced by tenderness & care. There is so much enchantment felt within the house…gnomes hiding in the crevices, dried flowers & herbs bundled together, earth plaster molded in a way to create mountainous landscapes lined with trees & animals with unfurled vines creeping up the walls. We settled into our space & found comfort in each other.
Friday we started off with a tour- trailing through the ridges & edges carved along the structures…oooooing & aaaawwwwing, captivated by the creativity of the hands & minds collectively responsible for such earth casseroles…layers of rocks, fibers, clay, sand, water, & reed formulated into a recipe that nourishes the souls who witness its richness & form.
Saturday we embarked on our first workshop- learning the mechanisms & inner workings of earth plaster & cob. We gathered our materials- subsoil clay & sand, fiber, & water. We mixed it all up & packed our samples into pookies- a hybrid of cookie-puck earth matter. Afterwards we smeared a layer of plaster on a tester brick with a trowel & burnished/ polished it using a sponge/ plastic lid dependent on the desired finish. We each took a piece of drywall that we applied an adhesion coat to- 1 part rough sand & pebbles & 1 part cooked flour paste. This became the template on which we could fashion our design into.
Some examples include a fairy door made by Lori; a tree produced by Elise; Jacob stamped some geranium & oak leaves into his mixture; & Eric carved the view seen out of his friend’s window in their home nestled in the mountains of Taos, NM, full of sage brush. We also had the opportunity to try sculpting- I massaged mine into a sun; Sean constructed a hobbit home; jacob assembled an amanita muscaria mushroom fully adorned with an annulus; Elise, Deanne, & Breena shaped theirs into a face delighted to be born in the palms of their makers. It was a fun experience. I learned a lot & am grateful for everyone’s participation 💛.
Week 2 Blog Post Jan. 9- 15: by Elise Baker
The second week of the internship we did a couple of classes with Deanne. One on NVC, or non-violent communication, and intentionally reframing self limiting beliefs into constructive communication. We learned about the wheel of universal human needs, and reflected on needs and feelings we want in our lives. The other class was on continuum; cradle to cradle vs. cradle to death and the circular economy.
We spent a couple of the days prepping for the upcoming workshop, felling small trees in the woods and learning how to use a chainsaw. Sean led the charge with his expertise in pruning and arboriculture. We used a simple carry tool with branches and rope to haul our felled trees back to camp.
Twas a cold, wintry day when we set out upon our journey of learning and building during the Roundpole frame workshop. We were joined by three friends, Taylor, Cory and Gretchen, who were very enthusiastic about the session. We started by getting to know each other, touring, and then learning the skills and knowledge necessary to have a foundation to start building, led by the wonderful Deanne. There was also a bit of chaos in the morning as Leonita took it upon herself to catch a bird.
Before we got to work on wood, we tested our newly learned skills on a smaller medium; carrots! This was a great ideaas we got to see how different joints fit together without wasting wood. The carrots were also easy to chisel and mold into whatever we wanted. Lap joints made into rafters were a popular choice. Next, we moseyed our way into the red barn, where we learned how to read a log. This is a crucial step in making sure your cuts are even and along the same plane, especially with uneven logs. We also spent time picking out wood and debarking it with a draw knife, which was oddly satisfying. Our evening was spent getting warm inside while eating kitchari, or as Sean likes to call it, kitchenry. The next day was when we began working on our projects. Elise and Taylor made an A frame with the braces held on with wooden pegs. Claudia and Cory made an A frame as well, and a mallet. Gretchen, Jacob, and Sean worked on a mortise and tenon joint project. All of the projects were lovely and turned out well. Overall a great week and we are excited for more!
Blog Post Week 3, 1/16/23-1/22/23 by Elise Baker
We started the week with an off day, and then got some work trade hours in. Deanne led a class where we learned about building foundations and what types of materials are used, ways to drain water away from buildings, rat walls and so on. It was interesting to talk about the way orientations of a building can affect things like sunlight and temperature in the building, or the placement of a root cellar or a bedroom. At night we pulled medicine cards; Elise was the turtle, Sean the Eagle, Claudia the bat, Jacob the Raven, and Deanne the skunk!
The highlight of Wednesday was going to the potluck at Goldner Walsh and learning about herbalism techniques! We spent a couple hours in preparation, mashing potatoes and deviling eggs. While we were there we learned how to make tinctures, infusions, and a few different teas that were helpful for different ailments among other things. We feasted ravenously on the many foods that were brought. There was much chatter and laughter after the session, and a couple of us played with a cat that had a feather duster looking tail.
On Thursday morning we did some work trade, felling a couple logs and taking them back to camp in our four persons stick carrier. Later we were graced with the presence of a dear friend, Scott (not to be confused with Sean, who also has a nice moustache)! We learned how to light and use the earth oven, and celebrated the occasion with making homemade pizzas, led by Jacob. We ended the night with a large and moderately stinky dance party, enjoying disco and the sounds of Motown. Some of the highlights were Jacob shaking his booty vigorously, Claudia and Scott with their hula hoop tricks, and seeing Sean’s unearthly dancing skills.
Friday was marked by the arrival of our beloved Emma, who is joining us for the rest of the month as a wintern. We also had a few people from the workshop the following weekend join us for overnight, it was nice getting to know them and helping them get settled into the house. (Very nice to meet you, Caitlin, Kaelan, Stephanie, Rachel, and Jacob!) Once Saturday arrived the workshop was in full force; we first spent some time touring and learning the basics of thatching and tying up the reeds, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the reed fields. We learned how to harvest reeds, the coloring of reeds that are best to harvest and the best timing to harvest, and got to practice tying up reed bundles of our own.
The time Sunday was spent working on our bigger thatching projects. We learned how to tie down the base layer of the reeds to the frame, and then how to put on subsequent layers. Nurse Ratched made an appearance. There was quite a bit of teamwork involved as we had to push a “needle” through the reeds to the person waiting on the other side in order to wire down a bundle. We each took turns doing each part of the thatching, tying down the wires and using the rope to secure the bundles. It was a great workshop and a great week!