Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clay fun on a cold and windy day

This morning we ventured to our land, and our little unfinished straw bale, as a family. For the first time in two weeks, it was just us. 

It was a freakishly cold and windy day and I guess we wondered, is this a portent of winter to come? Yes it was windy on that hill but inside our little strawbs we felt pretty secure, snug and warm. We started the day with the modest aim of finishing the first layer of clay render on the back interior wall. We almost made it until Oscar, in a fit of enthusiasm, tipped the water out and we had no more water to make more render. By that time, the sun was getting low on the far hill, our arms were aching and we decided to call it a day with a necessary detour home via Coles for  ice cream and red wine. 
With a healthy clay render, everyone can be involved.
It felt odd working on our home, just the four of us. Odd and good at the same time. Oscar noticed the absence of a collective with his plaintive cry, "All the people, gone... all the people, gone.."Annie and I wondered how we'd go working on the house, just us with our little kids. People warned us it would be hell. But actually, it was fun. Productivity was low to medium but still, we felt like we'd all contributed and clay rendering is just so damn satisfying! I'm sure there's a beautiful analogy somewhere there about the joy derived from building a handmade house from the earth. Also you can't really get much more kid friendly than clay rendering, so kids are all hands on for the inside, though the outside render involves lime and a bit of cement (to make it weather proof) so is less for the kiddies' involvement. We're on the first layer, with two more layers to go, so rough and cracked is a-ok. Some little kiddy inscription just adds character and will actually help with the application of the subsequent layers by providing a 'key' for the 2nd and 3rd layers to attach to.
Annie working hard on the tricky window areas
Always time for snotty kisses
The noticeable absence of a collective today provided us with a moment to pause and reflect on the awesome and mammoth effort that got us to where we were today. Really, it's overwhelming to think about the love and generosity and fine assistance we have been showered with these past weeks. So next up must be a roll call of thanks. But for now, it's ice cream and wine and fruit stewing on the stove with vanilla bean... and maybe, hopefully, completing the paint removal from the old windows and french doors we are using in this little straw bale... Golly gosh they are beautiful! Don't fret, windows and doors to feature in a future post.
Annie, a little bit Deadwood today
Cost of clay, lime and cement for internal and external render was $2700. Most of that was the clay, which is annoying, given the amount we found on site when we excavated. At least we'll know for next time!

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