Tuesday, August 28, 2007

straw up

daisy and a bale

the first corner

testing clay plaster

tim and jay

nearly to the top

we've been workin' our butts off getting the straw walls up. lots of lessons. first, measure your bale height not by the height of a single bale but a stack of five or six. they seem to gain a few inches in stacking. second, make all your openings a modulus of bale dimension. third, figure out connection details in advance, preferably in three dimensions.

we also had a day and a half of excavation work during which the water lines, gas lines and the porch foundation piers were installed and a pit for our root cellar was dug. so, we now have pressurized water. we'll be shocking the well and submitting water for testing and hopefully all will pass so we can drink the water, finally! it's been great having the water handy for construction, but to drink it will ice the cake.

plaster tests have been ongoing. masonry sand is recommended for plaster and having tried out two different sands i have to report that masonry sand creates a much better, tougher plaster. it would appear that our connecticut river valley clay is about a clay-ish soil, not pure clay. a 1:1 mix with sand or 1.5:1 mix seems to dry to a durable finish. we've tried adding a bit of lime putty to the mix and this really helps bind the mix. i expect we'll go with some lime, though it means we can't apply the plaster with bare hands. i wouldn't recommend it anyway--i've peeled a good deal of skin off my hands in the last week!


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