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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.