Monday, June 25, 2012

Thrills and gratitude and coat number 3!

Trees through window courtesy of Olive

Yesterday was a day of some significance for us as we began the final coat of internal render. As with all our coats of render, we're going with Frank's recipes. Recipe for the third internal clay layer is 3 parts of washed sand, 1 part clay, mix with water to thick gravy consistency. And wowee how easily layer number 3 goes on!

We felt a little bit of trepidation approaching this third and final coat. With the previous two coats it felt like there was some scope to be a bit rough and ready, as we knew there was always going to be another layer to cover our sins. But now, with layer number three, this is it. There is nowhere to hide. Luckily the render glides on like icing. I think I may have used the icing analogy before. But let it be known that layer three is even more like icing than layer two. Oh sweet relief. We powered along and got half the inside rendered in just one afternoon.

Annie had been inspired to try a little bit of burnishing, uber-inspired as she has been by reading the Cob Builders Handbook. In it, Becky Bee suggests rubbing a large flat, smooth stone across the semi-dry final layer in order to smooth it out and assist the clay molecules to align, making it more durable.

We're rather lacking the large, flat, smooth stones on our block, being more of the prehistoric granite outcrop that it is. And so, on Annie's mum's excellent suggestion, we used the discarded elbow of some recycled pipe. It worked a treat. Having said that, we're not so fussed about having super-smooth walls preferring a more handmade quality to our little, tiny house.

We're aiming to finish this final layer on Friday when we have the hours between 9 and 3 sans children. Oh but we have little choice but to finish it the inside walls this week as we're planning on making our floor this Sunday and we don't know how long it'll take to dry. We figure we can catch up on some outside business while our beautiful rammed earth floor is curing. We're pretty excited about our rammed earth floor working bee this Sunday. We've got a big pile of clay soil, we've almost got the blood and our special natural sealant aka. Bermagui blend is on its way to us. But more on this at a later time. 

Sunday also provided a little bit of a thrill when we discovered nine little bubba eucalypts rising of-their-own-accord from our degraded ex-dairy farming land. It's such a wonderful thing to observe these moments of natural bush regeneration and so we resolved to help it along and start a little regen project in and amongst these little trees, which surround a colossus of a eucalypt. It's a little spot perfect for Winter's day picnics with sun shining down from the north and views down the valley. 

Olive declared it the perfect place for a fairy party

And it also provides a new perspective on our little tiny strawbale

We were also very grateful for Annie's mum (Carolyn aka. Nanny) and her superb window cleaning efforts. It's a job we've been wanting to tackle but never quite found the time. Another little thrill was had, as we saw, just how beautiful our windows might be when not covered in possum piss, dirt and lime render. Thank you Nanny/Carolyn/Mummy! Truth be told we could have avoided the mess by keeping windows covered but so excited, were we, to have them in providing our house with so much more of its house-ness that we just didn't think about the mess we were getting them into

Thanks Nanny!

 The day ended in a rendering frenzy in fading light as I rushed to finish the final barrow load before the light entirely disappeared and before the kids, through tiredness and hunger, lost it completely. Luckily our neighbour across the hill provided some intrigue in the form of "burning off". Yes I know, who burns off these days? Hmm well plenty of farming types around Bega it seems. Oscar watched from our most coveted spot, the front step. This front step is going to see some action, so warm and sunny it is on these cold cold days.

Oscar on front step by Olive


  1. Wow, big congrats to you all, the place is looking amazing! How exciting to see all these final touches happening - before you know it you'll be all cosy living in your wonderful strawbale creation!

    Big love and hugs,

    Ally, Rich and little Annie xxx

  2. so much progress! congrats ladies! She's looking amazing! xoxoxox

  3. Congratulations Ladies! Job well done. I have to agree with Olive - perfect place for a Fairy Party:) I am loving watching this all come together.