Natural Building Workshop: Cob Building, Natural Plastering, Earthen Flooring

Natural Living Skills                  

Expand your natural building skills, learn cob-building and build a cob bench, create an earthen floor, make your own natural plasters and practice artfully applying to finish a beautiful natural cob meditation chapel. Come for the weekend or stay for the full workshop for more hands-on experience. Just 25 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the quiet and beautiful pastoral setting and get a taste of community life. Camping, daily yoga classes and delicious vegetarian meals included.

Natural earthen floor.

Natural earthen floor.

 

Hands on Natural Building Experience

Hands on practice with several finishing processes on a recently built cob structure. The workshop includes working with exterior natural earthen plasters for preservation and artistic expression, install an earthen floor and build a cob bench. You will work with different earthen mixes using sand, clay soil natural oils and pigments that preserve and bring luster to wall finishes. Get a taste of all the techniques in the weekend workshop or gain more hands-on experience and finish the project in the full 6-day workshop.

2012 Living With Spirit Plastering the Bale Cob Classroom

2012 Living With Spirit Plastering the Bale Cob Classroom

 

Beautiful Natural Setting outside Portland, Oregon

The workshop will take place at Ananda Center at Laurelwood, a yoga and retreat center, 40 minutes from downtown Portland. Daily guided meditation and yoga included. Registration is limited to allow personalized hands on instruction. The building site is set on a lovely hillside with views of the coastal range and spectacular sunsets, starry night displays and a fun camp fire circle guaranteed! Enjoy the feeling of deep friendship that comes from building and working together and the family environment of our center with residents, interns and guests.

Instructor Pablo Loayza from Natural Living School

Pablo Loayza comes to us from Natural Living School, located in the foothills of the Sierras at the Ananda Village in Nevada City, CA. At Natural Living School, students learn to construct affordable, naturally built cottages and structures, gain experience and confidence to simplify their lives and create the potential for self-sufficiency. The Natural Living School is also a full service natural build and design company. Pablo apprenticed with Cob Cottage Company in 2010 and has been teaching and creating natural buildings ever since. Check out the Natural Living School site to see some of his latest projects!

Facilitator: John Gorman
Check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnandaGreenBuilders and if you have questions about the workshop, contact at (503) 516-7789

The Benefits and Beauty of Natural Building:

Building with earth encourages one to fully reevaluate how a living space should feel. Our eyes are opened to the beauty of a wall covered with clay plaster, alive with subtle variations of texture, color, and light. Cob and straw-bale walls impart solidity and shelter in a profound way. Structures and surfaces built by hand convey that they were built by people, for people, thus creating a nurturing experience for the sheltered. In contrast, modern industrial materials and design hide the humanity of the creator and frequently expose inhabitants to toxins. Until we are experience an alternative to sterile flat walls covered in plastic paints, we don’t really know what we are missing.

LWS Plastering classroom

Scratch coat, natural earthen plaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-See more at: http://anandalaurelwood.org/program/cob/#sthash.ueTqXIPU.dpuf

The Natural Living School’s 2015 Programs

We are so excited to announce this years project:  The construction of a 1400 sq. ft. natural home for a local family here in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains.  This structure will be built using round wood timber framing, milled lumber from the land, straw bales and cob (bale-cob), and light clay.  The goal for this year is to build the foundation, get the straw bale walls up, timber frame the main structure, roof the home with the milled lumber, install all the windows and doors, and plaster the outside of the structure.  We will also be creating a permaculture garden and orchard for the homeowners.

2015 Natural Building Floor Plan

2015 Natural Building Floor Plan

Having one large project for the next two building season will allow the school to offer very unique programs based on the construction of a natural building.  This structure will be built following California’s building codes, which will give all aspiring builders a chance to learn how to build to code, using a majority of natural materials.  In our design, in collaboration  with the home owners, we will use; round wood timbers from the land, milled lumber from the land,  clay from the land, sand and stone from the local quarry, and rice straw from the valley. We will also use as much reclaimed building materials as possible.

2015 Natural Building Project

2015 Natural Building Project

We are honored to have this opportunity and equally as excited to share this project with all who wish to learn how to build a natural structure to code as well as deepening our practices of yoga, meditation, and self discovery.  We are looking to share this project with individuals whom have high energy, looking to work and learn in a spiritual environment.  Participants can join us for all aspects of the construction, or specific stages of the building process depending on when and how long they join us in the 2015 building season.

Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project

Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project

If you are interested in finding out more about our programs please visit our apprentice page, karma yoga program, or workshop page.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at info@naturalivingschool.com or call 530-268-5255.

We look forward to hearing from you…..

 

Natural Building Certification Program

This year we are offering our first Natural Building Certification. Over the years we haven’t felt that this was a necessary step. I remember when I finished my apprenticeship at Cob Cottage Company, Ianto from Cob Cottage Company, asked us if we wanted our certification? If we did, he could print them on toilet paper for us to use later. He believes that certifications are worth as much, and are as useful as toilet paper.  This too, was my belief for the last few years. What’s a certificate for anyway? I don’t even know where my college diploma is, nor do I care to find it. The truest proof of knowledge is in practice. To truly understand is to continue to improve, learn from your mistakes, and transcend your practice to ever new heights.

Water Level Round wood timber framing

Well, it’s true, certifications are not that important in the long run, but after meditating on it for a while, I have come to understand the benefits. It’s not in the result, rather it’s in the process. To me, college was a joke. I did it because that’s what society and my parents said I should do to be somebody in the world. Though my college diploma is in some box in my storage, the experience I gained in research, staying up late to finish papers, seeing things through, and never giving up because someone says you can’t do it, are experiences I still use today. These practices have led me to research, and to find a way to build natural buildings that can be permitted, even though most people say it’s not possible. Over many days, months, and now years, we have finally been able to crack the code.

Cob Goat Shack Reciprocal Roof

Cob Goat Shack Reciprocal Roof

Our unique and progressive certification gives hands on experience and practice to all who are interested in constructing natural buildings that can be permitted in most counties across the country. Construction to satisfy municipal building codes gives you the freedom to create beautiful natural structures almost anywhere in the world. The certification program is designed for non-experienced builders, professional builders, architects, engineers, and designers alike. We have structured our program to allow this knowledge to be accessible to many different types of individuals, from those looking to study full-time, to those who need to participate part-time over a longer period. In the end you can lose, store, or use your certification however you want, but know this, the experience you will gain through our certification process, will never be forgotten.

If you are interested in receiving our certification in natural building, please take a look at our Certification Page.

 

 

Muddy Buddy Builders

by Ninette Warner

 

The “Muddy Buddy Builders” is a program for children and families, that teaches natural building in a fun and accessible way.  Here, children can learn how to build small structures with local earthen material, play nature games, increase their relationship with the natural world, and form connections with each other.  Kids love playing in the dirt, creating mud pies, and building forts. Through direct participation kids will develop this natural inclination to build with mud. They will learn to create actual model homes and villages, as well as other small structures; play houses, cob ovens, and whatever else the child can imagine. This knowledge is all applicable to real life, they will discover alternate ways of living, and building without using harmful manufactured materials.  They can use this experience and knowledge to one day build their own home!

Kid making a cob oven

Kids making a cob oven

The activities at the Muddy Buddy Builders will strengthen confidence, leadership skills, encourage outdoor play, learn the importance of working together, and living in community.  The days will be spent in construction; designing, learning about materials and techniques, preparing cob, building structures, and learning about natural finishes, as well as playing games of cooperation and nature games based on Joseph Cornell’s “Sharing Nature with Children.” Some basic yoga postures will be incorporated to balance our minds, get centered, and stretch out our cob muscles.

 

Muddy Buddy playing and building, Yes it can be both!

Muddy Buddy playing and building, Yes it can be both!

In today’s culture there is a huge emphasis on quick fixes, fast paced lives, and an educational system that has little focus on developing one’s creative problem solving, emotional well being, and critical thinking skills. Our children are taught that success is measured by the size of your house or how much money you make in a year. We gauge intelligence with standardized tests that focus primarily on how well one can memorize facts. In a society where our children are bombarded with various forms of technology, advertisements and media, there is a gross disconnect from nature and our place in it. Our world seems to be dominated by Facebook and other social media, and we have forgotten how to truly connect with one another.

Ninette, Esme and Solis getting slip on the earth bag foundation

Ninette, Esme and Solis getting slip on the earth bag foundation

I believe that it is of utmost importance that we foster social interaction by encouraging them to interact in a cooperative and overall positive way. Learning and experiencing sustainable living will do just that. Cooperation and interaction with both each other and our environment are inherent principles to sustainable living. Sustainable living is the attempt to reduce our dependency on Earth’s nonrenewable resources by living in community, using permaculture techniques, building with natural, earthen material and reducing our waste. This often means examining our lives and figuring out how to simplify. Building with our hands and with the resources we have available is a great way to learn how many things and how much space we actually need. Life becomes much more satisfying when we live more in tune with nature and with less focus on the material world.

An Apprentice’s Experience

Dayla Carlson, spent 3 months as an apprentice with us last year, and so kindly wrote down her experience to share with all of us.  Thank you Dayla, it was a true honor having you join us.  You are an amazing soul destined for greatness.

“As someone who suffers from the burden of too many expectations, being with the Natural Living School was some serious medicine. First of all, it fundamentally reshaped the way I think about learning. Having been raised in the institutional education system, I had come to expect my learning experiences to fit into some sort of formula, and to be largely directed by some forces larger than myself, forces which somehow claimed to know the best way for me to learn. In direct contrast to this, the Natural Living School introduced me to voluntary, consensual experiential learning, that responded to individual needs and openly addressed the spiritual nature of being alive. This form of learning quite honestly intimidated me at first, almost created fear within me. But that fear was stemming from the discomfort of confronting the individualism/complacency that society had planted within me. After three months of learning this way, I can say that it was the most empowering experience of my young life thus far. Suddenly, I realized that I have power over my own learning and also the power of the cosmos within me.

Chiseling joinery on round wood cedar timbers

Chiseling joinery on round wood cedar timbers

It was empowering on a self-confidence level, but also on a skills level. I gained literal survival skills, i.e. the ability to construct shelter for myself. This empowerment opened up an intimate connection with the earth, and it will now be one of the reasons I am able to live life according to my own set of ethics, rather than living my life according to broad standards and cultural expectations. If I can make my own shelter, what else can I do on my own? Can I feed myself from the earth’s bounty and the sun’s energy, rather than feeding myself from a series of artificial packages? These are the types of questions my experience as a natural builder encouraged me to confront. In a sense, participating in this program woke me up from the passive slumber of mere acceptance that I had been living prior. No more figurative identity boxes, no more literal mass-produced boxes (“homes”) for me. It felt like…liberation!

Water and Shade breaks are a must wile working on a Cob Greenhouse.

Water and Shade breaks are a must wile working on a Cob Greenhouse.

The fusion of natural building with spirituality also benefited me greatly. Even if at first I was reluctant to participate in classes and meditations, simply being hosted in such a peaceful and mindful environment (the Expanding Light) generated peace within me. I eventually found myself being moved to meditation at every sunset, and sometimes even being awake to meditate for the sunrise. I did not think of it as meditation at first, simply watching and appreciating the sun. But it took on serious ritualistic characteristics and I began to derive much of my daily strength from my daily meditations. In this way, being with the Natural Living School connected me with my passion for meditation, inner reflection, and then sharing those feelings with others. Overall, I came away from the whole experience with the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to radiate the positivity I was feeling to all beings surrounding me!

Its hard work waiting for others to finish chiseling their part.

Its hard work waiting for others to finish chiseling their part.

I still harbor these passions for earth-based spirituality and teaching others the skills I have acquired. I sincerely love the experience I had with Pablo, the Natural Living School, and Ananda Village.”

by Dayla Carlson 2013 NLS Apprentice

Thank you Costa Rica, We will see you next year

“Pura Vida,”  Pure life, a local saying in Costa Rica.  How true it is.

The 1st all Bamboo structure with a palm thatch roof, and ready to played in.

Our First all Bamboo structure with a palm thatch roof

We had a wonderful stay, and we sure learned a lot.

Don Jacinto and Billete showing us how to use the Alaskan Mill to cut lumber for traditional Costa Rican Homes.

Don Jacinto and Billete showing us how to use the Alaskan Mill to cut lumber for traditional Costa Rican Homes.

Mel, Making Thatch panels for the natural Palm roofs.  Thank you for showing us, Emanuel and Walter.

Mel, Making Thatch panels for the natural Palm roofs. Thank you for showing us, Emanuel and Walter.

The Divine gift of working with Bamboo, enjoying amazing food, working hard with friends, and sharing space with wonderful locals.

Greg and Alyssa's frist structure together.  Nice job.

Greg and Alyssa’s frist structure together. Nice job.

Building with Cob, during our 3 week costa Rican workshop.  Took way to long to dry.

Building with Cob, during our 3 week costa Rican workshop. Took way to long to dry.

The Every day snack.  A must to keep us going. "La Pipa", to drink, then "El Coco," to eat.

The Every day snack. A must to keep us going. “La Pipa”, to drink, then “El Coco,” to eat.

It goes without a doubt that we will be going back to Costa Rica next year.  So stay tuned… and plan to come with us on this amazing experience.

Our 3rd and 4th all Bamboo structure.  Can you see them.  Great everyone.

Another beautiful Bamboo structure. Great job everyone.

Kale putting on the last rafters on the reciprocal roof.

Kale putting on the last rafters on the reciprocal roof.

Our last structure before the workshop ended.  All Bamboo octagon with a reciprocal roof.

Our last structure before the workshop ended. All Bamboo octagon with a reciprocal roof.

Thank You all participants of the 2014 Costa Rica, Natural Living School Experience.  It was so much fun having you Join our family.

2014 Natural Living School Team in Costa Rica 

Thank you all participants of the 2014 Costa Rica, Natural Living School Experience. It was so much fun having you join our family.

Costa Rica, First Weeks

The Natural Living School is in Central America this winter for a two month natural building experience Costa Rica “Pura Vida” style. With the groundbreaking of a future eco-village happening, we have been getting rooted into this tropical lifestyle through experiencing the Caribbean coast culture and practicing local building/permaculture techniques.

A vista from the finca or farm where the eco-village will be.

A vista from the finca or farm where the eco-village will be.

Christmas in the Caribbean was well spent handing out gifts to the local children and sharing  a meal with our host family. Here are apprentices Melissa and Alyssa with the family.

Christmas in the Caribbean was well spent handing out gifts to the local children and sharing a meal with our host family. Here are apprentices Melissa and Alyssa with the family.

Half-way finished with our bamboo bungalow. The bamboo growth here is incredible.  There is an abundance of this renewable resource.

Half-way finished with our bamboo bungalow. The bamboo growth here is incredible.
There is an abundance of this renewable resource.

On the loft of the bamboo bungalow saying hola down below to Pablo, Alyssa, and Greg.

On the loft of the bamboo bungalow saying hola down below to Pablo, Alyssa, and Greg.

Learning how to make thatched roof with local artisans. It is incredible to see the entirety of this species of palm, Llolila get used for roof thatching.

Learning how to make thatched roof with local artisans. It is incredible to see the entirety of this species of palm, Llolila get used for roof thatching.

Overall, its been hot, rainy, and full of mosquitos.  But what an amazing time we are having.  Thank you Divine Mother.  Now comes the rest of the apprentices and workshop participants.  Stay tune… 

Building with Spirit ~ COSTA RICA

The groundbreaking of a new Ecovillage

Join us on the construction of a roundwood, timber framed, bamboo and cob structure

Near San Andreas, Costa Rica, Located 45 minutes South of Limón

      • Yoga
      • Meditation
      • Natural Building
      • Permaculture
      • Sustainable Living
      • Building with Spirit

Natural Building Workshop ~  $400 January 4th-25th, 2014

Natural Building Apprenticeship ~ $800 December 4th, 2013 – January 28th, 2014

Please email info@naturallivingschool.com to reserve your space

2013 Natural Building Project and Workshops

Join us this summer, and learn how you can build your own natural building, practice yoga, meditation, and feed your spirit. Workshop participants will get hands on experience with rock-bag foundations, making cob, building a cob bond beam, building bale cob walls, timber framing, installing an earthen roof, and working with earth plasters.  We will learn through discussion about rubble trench foundations, concrete tie beams, earthen floors, and give a quick overview on electrical, plumbing, solar water heating, and grey water harvesting.  You will also learn how to use some essential permaculture design principles to create your own food garden.  Our workshop participants will gain an in depth understanding of the natural building process, and experience the benefits of daily yoga and meditation.   

The  workshop participants will be working on the cottage pictured above in small segments, in a way that allows them to experience all aspects of the building process.  Since our workshops are condensed into 6 days, our schedule will be very full.

  • Sunday- Arrive after lunch, get tents set up, join us for a meditation class, and participate in the afternoon yoga and meditation.  After dinner, we will have our orientation.  
  • Monday – Foundations
  • Tuesday – Cob wall systems
  • Wednesday – Timber framing
  • Thursday – Roof systems
  • Friday – Permaculture and earth plaster
  • Saturday- After breakfast we will have our final question and answer.

Each day will begin with yoga and meditation, followed by an informative discussion of the day’s topic, and will end with an evening question and answer session.  We will end our week with a pizza party in downtown Ananda Village, at Masters Market.  

LWS Cobing

 

As part of the workshop, you will enjoy camping at the Expanding Light, the yoga and meditation retreat at Ananda Village, a drug and substance free environment.

By signing up for our workshop, you will be named on our website as part of the 2013 Natural Building Team and receive an electronic copy of The Natural Living Journal, covering in detail every step of the natural building process. Your support will help make this year’s building a reality.

LW Group Bale Cobing

2013 Building with Spirit Workshops

June 2nd-8th -A 6 day intensive natural building experience .

  • $565 This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above.

Aug. 11th-17th– A 6 day intensive natural building experience.

  • $565   This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above.

Sep 22nd- Sep 28th– A 6 day intensive natural building experience .

  • $565 This includes a campsite, 3 vegetarian meals per day, and all the added benefits mentioned above. 

 

Please phone 1-800-346-5350 to reserve your space.

More About The Project

The cottage will be built affordably, and to code. We believe that everyone has a right to affordable housing, and to be able to build in a sustainable way, limiting the destruction of our natural resources, and limiting the large amount of waste that is often produced in conventional building.

In most counties around the country you are allowed to build a timber-framed house with straw bale walls and use earthen plasters, as long as the building has been engineered. We have found an amazing engineer that works with natural materials and can help us engineer a structure that can be built simply and affordably using materials from the land.

The cottage will be built using round wood timbers to frame the entire structure, including the roof. Then we will infill the walls using cob and straw bales to create a natural, non-toxic, breathable, highly insulated wall system. There will be natural plasters, an earthen floor, and it will have sustainable heating and cooling methods to work with nature, rather than against it. This structure can be built with a basic understanding of natural building, and yes even you can do it.

 

2013 Building Season, Phase 1

The Goal for the 2013 building season is to timber frame the entire structure, roof it completely, and then only enclose the walls in the red section, as illustrated on the above floor plan.  Phase two will be to infill the rest of the walls in the blue section during the 2014 summer building season.

Flexible Design

Anyone interested in duplicating the original structure, could construct the red section only, which is about 500 sq ft. This structure could stand alone as a cozy cottage, or could be added on to later.  The main room could be used for the living room and kitchen, with a sleeping loft above the bathroom and closet.  Later, if more space is needed, one could add on the blue section from the original floor plan.

If you are interested in being a part of the 2013 building team please contact us.