My Intro to Cob

My introduction to cob, and natural building came in the winter of 2010, when my wife brought home the The Hand Sculpted House” book, written by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley. She had been interested in finding an alternative to our busy city life. I worked for myself 50 to 60 hours per week, and we had very little quality time together.

One of the best books on Natural Building; a must have for the apprentice, workshop participant, or anyone interested in natural building.

The book talks about building homes out of mud, straw, and sand, which admittedly sounded very foreign to me.  I had experience in construction, restoring old portland homes, but at that time I was running a non-profit business helping the Hispanic community out of foreclosure.  I was too busy to give the book a second look, but my wife was convinced that natural building might help us bring more balance to our lives.

cob cottage garden wall

So she went online, and found out that the Cob Cottage Company was in Oregon, not too far from Portland, where we lived.  She also saw that they were going to have a work party.  She called and spoke with Linda Smiley, and we were invited to join the work party.  I was hesitant, but I agreed to go.

The Laughing House, a two level cottage, perfect for a small family

When we showed up, we found the location to be in the middle of the Oregon rain forest.  We arrived in the evening, so we couldn’t really experience the beauty, but the energy was surely felt.  As we walked up the trail, we saw a sign on the ground between two paths.  The sign read, “There are two ways to get rich, you can make more money, or you can require less.”

The Laughing house kitchen

We had already tried making more money, but what did it mean to require less?  We continued up the path to a beautiful building that had a living roof.  It looked like a hobbit house.  As we got closer, I realized how beautiful the building looked.  We walked in, and there were at least 15 people comfortably squeezed in the 10×20 ft space.  They all looked so happy, talking, eating, and laughing.

The Myrtle, a community building with the best Natural building library in the west coast
Inside the Myrtle

At that moment I knew that this place was special, and yes the buildings were foreign to me, but at the same time there was something very familiar. That weekend we spent time adding moss to the natural roofs, making a cat cob bench, playing with natural plasters, and enjoying the beautiful Oregon rainforest.

Cob bench made to look like a cat sleeping

After that weekend, my wife and I knew that this could be the answer we had been looking for.  Affordable housing, living closer to nature, and having quality time doing work that feeds our spirit.

The back of the bedrock, one of the most unique roof lines I have ever seen

We went back home, energized to find a way to leave the rat race, and move out into the country and build our own cob cottage.  Of course this was just a dream at the time, but little did we know how our life would change in the next couple years, all because of this one weekend. Come and join us during our work parties, and see if your life will change for the better.

Lions paw, a building we worked on in the summer of 2010

Thank you Adam Komosinski for some of these pictures.  My hard drive crashed and I lost many of my cob cottage pictures.  You can see Adams blog post here. 

3 Replies to “My Intro to Cob”

  1. Glad I could help you out 🙂 This, and everything else on here, looks great! Very well written and thought out. And it’s great to see one of my Workshop Brethren not just building, but doing it in such an amazing way!

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