Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adobe Bricks

The interior wall that abuts our Tempcast masonry heater will be built with adobe bricks which will then be plastered. The logic behind this design is that the masonry heater will heat our house and, at the same time, the adobe wall. The heat from the wall will radiate into the room on the opposite side of the wall, Scott's office.

Monday we had a family work party. The goal? To make 150 adobe bricks, 5 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches tall by 14 inches long. While Doug and Shanna manned the mortar mixer, the rest of the family went into production mode.

Wesley rinses brick forms.
Barb, Wesley and Kelli fill forms with plaster.
Kelli smooths plaster.
John uses a double form.
Wesley uses a stick screed to remove excess plaster from form.
Jessica fills buckets with clay for the mixer.
Casey keeps Missy company.
Adobe bricks lined up inside the house.
In less than half a day, we made one hundred and fifty-one bricks. Eventually they will go into our heater wall.

First Layer - Part 2

We are definitely plaster novices. That fact became very apparent when Doug stood his straight edge up against our walls. As you can see in this picture, there were gaps, some wide and others small, from the eaves to the drip edge at the bottom of each wall. This was due to the irregularity of our bales. In some places, they bulged out. In other places they swooped in.

To make the application of our last two plaster layers easier, our plaster team - Scott, Doug, Shanna, Linda and I - made a second pass around the house with our trowels, straight edges and plaster bins. That means there is lots of plaster, almost three inches in places, while some spots have a very thin layer.

Part of the charm of a strawbale house is the organic curve of the walls. We wanted to preserve that feeling, but we also didn't want the walls to look like a lumpy chocolate layer cake either. Without being overly fixated on straightness, we now have a much more even plane upon which to place our second plaster layer. For most of the house, this will consist of clay, straw, water and sand. On the north bump-out, this will consist of clay, straw, sand, lime putty and water. Scott will begin the second layer in late August.