Underhill House is going to be the site of a number of natural building workshops during its construction, and the first four are now scheduled. I’m happy that workshops will be part of our house. Doug and I have participated in workshops in the past on cob building, straw bale walls, plastering straw bale walls and building with unmilled timbers.
We have learned a ton at workshops, and they helped us gain the confidence to step off the conventional building path.
Now I am glad to pay that back by letting interested people try their hand at some sustainable skills and learn more about natural building on our house. I’m a little nervous about having newbies making part of our home, but in the workshops I have been a participant at, everything seems to come out well, so I’m going to trust to fate on this.
The workshops are being offered by Driftless Folk School, a dedicated nonprofit that offers experiences in farm and garden, alternative energy, building and woodworking (that’s where we come in), and courses like cheese making, wild edibles of early spring and backyard astronomy, blacksmithing and lots more.
Here are the four workshops coming up at Underhill:
The courses will take place at our land outside Ridgeway, WI, and each costs $60 for a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day of hands-on learning.
If you want to join the fun, you can register at the Driftless Folk School site.
Slip Form Masonry with Tom Spicer April 21, 2012
Learn the art of slip-form masonry and how to create beautiful, rustic and economical walls for your next project. This workshop will create a slip-form masonry knee wall for a new sustainable house near Ridgeway Wisconsin. The class will begin with a rundown of the slip form process, materials and technique and quickly become hands on. Learn the simple three step process: set up form-work, arrange stonework, and then mix, pour and properly reinforce concrete. This workshop will create one “course” of wall as a knee wall base for a straw bale wall system but the same techniques apply to creating a full height wall.
Round Timber Framing with Bryan Dalstrom April 28, 2012
This workshop will cover the basics of round timber frame construction. The location at Underhill House– a straw bale, round timber-framed residence, currently under construction – will allow for a thorough exploration of the technique. Discuss the reasoning behind the owner’s choice to build with round wood and tour the woods which supplied the entire timber stock. Follow up theory with practice in an afternoon of hands on tree peeling and observe the construction of basic joints. Tools used and wood sourcing will be discussed. On site camping available.
June 30, 2012
This workshop will demonstrate the art of straw bale wall construction. Begin with a morning discussion of the history of strawbale, its uses and benefits as well as a tour of the ongoing construction of Underhill House. Transition to a hands-on afternoon demonstrating basic straw bale construction techniques with plenty of time for dialogue about the process. Learn how to prep the bales, what they sit on and how they connect to each other, the windows, doors, ceiling and roof. Learn straw bale construction on the go as part of a residential construction project.
Plastering Stawbale Walls with Krome Burke-Scoll August 4, 2012
This workshop will demonstrate the art of plastering a straw bale wall. Begin with a morning discussion of the history of plaster, its uses and benefits as well as a tour of the on-going construction of Underhill House. Transition to a hands-on afternoon demonstrating plasters techniques with plenty of time for dialogue about the process. Learn how to prepare the plaster, how it’s applied and how to treat and protect it. This workshop will apply a scratch coat to existing straw bale walls. Hopefully time will allow for some brown or second coat as well. The final layer will be completed after the workshop. Learn plastering on the go as part of a residential construction project. Camping is available on site.
Have you had any great (or not-so-great) experiences with building workshops? Let’s hear about them.
What do you think about the concept of building workshops?