Sunday, May 27, 2012

A tale of renderer's arm...

I sit on the couch, computer in my lap, lemon drift tea by my side. My right arm is sore and doesn't quite work properly. Even typing is hard. Yes it is a tale of renderer's arm. 

While the second coat of external lime render has been started we decided to focus on the internal render today. The reality is we could move in without the external render complete but we certainly couldn't move in with the internal render incomplete. Without the internal rendering complete we can't make our earthen floor or get up into the loft to lay that floor (have we mentioned the amazing recycled hardwood floor timber we got for a really good price from a local demolition sale?) or do any of the other internal finishings.  The second layer of render, the "brown layer" requires a slightly different recipe. Of course we're using Frank's recipe which is is 2.5 parts river sand to 1 part clay mixed with water to thick gravy consistency. 

Mixing with the larry

Mixing the render by hand is a serious upper arm and abdominal workout. I try and imagine I am mixing a big cake - mix the dry ingredients, make a well and add the wet and mix, mix, mix...(Oh golly, it takes ages to mix it properly) Then pontificate for some time over what constitutes "thick gravy". The first batch was perfecto! Just like icing a cake. I have to admit I felt a little anxious about how rough our first layer was. I mean I knew it was meant to be rough but really, this rough? It was rough and dry and a little crumbly in places. I feared that we had been too near -enough-is-good-enough in our render creation and application. Of course we'd never rendered before so we needed to learn. Oh but still... All fears have been allayed by the ease of layer two. Yep just like icing a big beautiful cake.

Oh so much Autumn sun shining in and warming all that thermal mass

The second layer has been aided somewhat by the mesh that we have to lay simultaneously with the render. The mesh is used to further strengthen the render and to control cracking and will cover the entire house. It gets worked into layer two and seems to be providing a nice smooth base from which the third later will be applied.

It was a big day. Annie is, at present,  afflicted with tonsillitis so needed to rest in the almost-winter sun.  The kids ran and jumped and explored and helped and I rendered for almost seven hours and now I'm tired, very tired. Despite the hours worked I didn't quite finish the Eastern wall. I almost made it but the light was fading and the kids were on the brink... So in one sense it doesn't seem like a lot, but still, it feels so very good. We're starting to get a sense of how beautiful our walls will be. A little wonky, yes but so warm and appealing and so very handmade.

Olive and Oscar, running and running and running around our ever-so- huge 7x4 space.
Just to prove, it's not so small after all.


  1. Oh dear! Renderers arm! Not good. 7 hours sounds like too much in one go, Genevieve:) I know the feeling though, of wanting/needing to get it all done to move in. Sounds like it's all going beautifully. Stay well and rest up, both of you. x

  2. Looking beautiful, Genevieve! From my experience of Inflammatory Arm Issues brought about by many months of stone wall pointing and pruning in the French wintertime I can advise heatpacks, evening elevation, frequent variation in movement, stretching by doing weird mudra movements with both hands and also making sure shoulders are open, gentle squeezing, red wine, and rest days. Also maybe try one of those carpel tunnel wetsuit angry typist glove things, or strapping your wrists for pretty quickly you can find your arm will give out before your will to render, puffing up painfully and refusing to go on at all, which is bothersome. As for those tonsils! Poor wee lambkin Annie, sunshine for you x


    Ness xxx

    1. Thanks Dr Nessie.

      Pearl is feeling full of beans today, no lingering ailments or tiredness. Can't wait to get back at it!

      And yes, Kim, the will to get it finished is a powerful one indeed, though apparently not powerful enough to heal tonsils and give Annie her energy back!

  3. Stonking stuff you're made of, fair maidens. I shall allow that it is possible that one may be ever so slightly more requiring of a higher degree of tender daily maintenance than the average free labourer.


    Dr Nx

    PS The loft looks to be quite a distance from the floor...what's the go...stairs? Inclinator? Ladder?

  4. Yes a very high ceiling it is! A ladder there will be. Luckily the Osc is extremely adept and loves to climb xx