Tag Archives: permaculture

Cordwood “Dragon’s Keep” Welcomes Guests @Kinstone

The Entrance Center at Kinstone Permaculture Academy is called the Dragon’s Keep. Nineteen dragons reside within its walls, including the 15 foot beast undulating along in the wall.   This project has been ongoing and we finally made the big push to finish. Besides all the wonderful folk who put their heart and soul into the beginnings, we had twenty-three intrepid souls, brave the cold rainy spring weather to put on the finishing touches.  [Thank you to Kristine for the delightful pictures.]  Kinstone Dragon 4(Above)The 15 foot dragon has a dark green eye (far left), scales (triangle bottles) and a tiny set of wings (trapezoidal windows).  The Eastern Red Cedar is apparent in the red tinged pieces of cordwood.  The belly is a 4 foot piece of horizontal White Cedar.Kinstone Dragon 3

(Above) The mandala was created two years ago using cardboard for a template (see below). This is the brightest it has ever shined.  I think it likes having the building completed.  The dragon’s belly was previously positioned and placed.

Kinstone workshop 2The mandala was cut out of a large piece of cardboard to enhance accuracy. Kinstone workshop 9

Kinstone Dragon 10The group (above) worked diligently on April 29.   The group (below) feasted off the first groups’ hard work and completed the final rows of cordwood on April 30.  Kinstone Dragon 5A pewter dragon brings out a delightful smile from our Canadian kindergarten teacher,  Erin. Kinstone Dragon 9Dressing in layers is important for staying comfortable outside.  The bandana is useful as a dust mask and neck warmer for 39 windy degrees! Kinstone Dragon 13Having a heated classroom to eat and discuss Best Practices with cordwood was wonderful and comfortable. Kinstone Dragon 11We have an 8″ fence wall that we are laying out for a motif between the living roof post and beam framework.   It provided fun instruction in a group setting.  Everybody learned by eyeballing each other’s work!

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Normally we use 16 inch cordwood in order to achieve an R-value of 24, but on the fence/wall we are using 8″ cordwood and insulating it to give workshop participants a visual reminder to build a thermal break for their home building, all the while using best practices.  M-I-M stands for mortar-insulation-mortar.  Kinstone Dragon 6

A fine row of cordwood and bundled up cordwooders!

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Two of our participants from Rhinelander, Wisconsin (Kerry and Cecelia) placed the mythical Hodag into the wall using glass beads.Kinstone Dragon 14As luck would have it, two baby goats were born during the Sunday workshop. Named Peanut and Butter.  Everyone got a chance to cuddle the new borns.  They are very, very sweet animals.

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Becky and Christy are smitten by the baby goat (Peanut).

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Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood in Brazil

Jair Dias sent the following pictures and explanation of the cordwood (cobwood) home he is building in Brazil:    “Jair Dias lives in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil .”

Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6A with logo

The wood he is using for the cordwood infill is  Pinus Elliottii   The cob mortar is a mixture of red soil (sifted) and combined with clay, sand, sawdust, cement and lime. He says it works very well.  The bottle bricks in a circular pattern are very colorful. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 9 with logo

Note the metal roof, the large overhangs and the wrap around porch.   These help to keep the rain off the cobwood walls and stop any degradation.  Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 8 with logoJair Dias Brazil cob mortar 7 with logoJair is making an outline (in relief) in the mortar so the wood stands away from the mortar. That makes it easy to clean and sand.   I believe Jair means he is tuckpointing the log 3/4″ back from the end of the log.  This will allow for a final coat of cob for the wall.

Jair Dias 19Jair Dias 18Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6 with logo

The bottle bricks are very attractive. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 4 with logo

The center does not require a “center post” but rather a cap that helps maintain the integrity of the roof rafters. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 3 with logo

The walls are 12″ thick.  Jair Dias 17Jair Dias 16

Lots of windows and entranceways to make the jungle readily available for viewing. I will post more as Jair sends more information.   For pictures of the finished home click on https://cordwoodconstruction.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/cordwood-in-brazil-2/

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Dragon’s Cordwood Keep

In the rolling bluffs and buttes of southwest Wisconsin and nigh onto the Mississippi River resides a cordwood dragon. Kinstone 49This dragon (the eye is green) is sleeping in a cordwood “dragon’s keep.”  Kinstone 27 Made of cordwood, bottles, metal and glass it keeps watch over the Driftless Zone and the other 15 dragons nestled under and near its wings.  As you know a “keep” is defined as an “inner most stronghold.” Kinstone 4The Dragon’s Keep came to fruition during cordwood workshops at Kinstone Permaculture Academy near Fountain City, Wisconsin.  High atop a ridge, overlooking the Mississippi River, this dragon is ready for anything.  Actually multiple baby dragons can be seen nesting in the walls. Kinstone 9There is also a double antler shed embedded in the walls, which is now used as a coat rack.  You will also notice that this wall has cobwood (cob mortar and cordwood log ends) on the bottom and cordwood on the top. Kinstone 2

Here you can see the dragon’s eye, head and fiery tongue (black).Kinstone 10The entrance way is protected by a cedar tree. Kinstone 37A green dragon awaits placement in the wall. kinstone 47The dragon’s wing is ready to take flight. Kinstone 48

There are five tiny dragons in this photo, can you find them all?Kinstone 50The “keep” building crew is positive and happy with their work!

Kinstone 3Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

Cordwood Workshops: The way to DIY

Cordwood workshops are the best way to learn the cordwood construction technique.   When you take one from Richard & Becky Flatau of Cordwood Construction Resources LLC, they emphasis the “Best Practices” approach to building.  The Flatau’s have honed a set of 14 best practice building techniques that will not only make your home, cottage or cabin beautiful, but they will ensure that it will be safe, comfortable and code compliant.  Here are some sample pictures from our hands-on workshops that gives the reader a taste of what goes on.  The 2016 cordwood workshop schedule. http://cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Cordwood_Workshop_Schedule_2016_final.pdf

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Hard workers are determined to finish the sauna…and they did!

bonners ferry 4The mountains give off their misty glow near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. .  Germask Workshop Tammy Trupp 1 with Banjo BobBanjo Bob sings Country Roads as we teach a private workshop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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Singing and stomping Cob for the Entrance Center. workshop kinstone june 2014 first row

A doula and a university professor have fun building a wall. They are married. Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  framework of the saunaThe sauna post and beam framework with grade beam and keyways at Kinstone. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACordwood workshop at Love’s Organic Farm near Mars Hill, North Carolina.

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Planning their work, working their plan with smiles.

What is the R-value of a cordwood wall (under construction)

Two teachers build a wall at the Cordwood Education Center in Merrill, Wisconsin.

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Spreading insulation, cleaning log ends and tuck pointing are all parts of learning the “technique.”

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Sawdust and lime insulation is added and packed in the center cavity.

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Learning to “screen” sawdust becomes a lesson in wind direction:0)

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Hands on mortaring of a cordwood wall in a “learn it by doing” style is the best way to “cement” the tricks of the trade.

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If I see it and do it, I remember.

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Classroom time is devoted to “Best Practices” lessons with cordwood that have been hard won during 37 years of cordwood living, building and sharing.

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The Kinstone Chapel mortaring crew poses for an end-of-the day photo.

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Bottle ends made from vases from the Thrift Store.

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Becky and Kirsten are proud of their river motif wall.

MREA 11 year old cordwood cobber the next generation 2012

Using “Cob Mortar” at a demo at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

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The six sided chapel walls are being completed at a natural building pace.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood classroom houses Cloud Forest Conservation in Guatemala

Tara & Rob Cahill have been working in the rain forests near Coban, Guatemala for 14 years.  They have built a beautiful infrastructure that includes a cordwood school for middle and high school students.  Here is a brief walk through video by the architect Charles Olfert.  It is quite impressive.   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17CB46FDCA1730B5
CCFC 1AAA high resolution building and students with logoThe Small Quetzal is 75 foot long and 40 foot tall on the big end.  It houses 50+ student for classes, but it also is used for cooking jams, jellies, salsas and local products for distribution on the international market. CCFC 1A with logoShould you wish to consider to contribute a scholarship for a young lady to attend this life changing school  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/Build_and_Beyond_matching_fund_campaign.phpIMG_9804Education is the number one goal at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) School.CCFC 26 curved wall quetzalBuilding the Cloud Forest Conservation School with cordwood construction.

IMG_7717Cleaning log ends and sharing stories for the next days wall building.CCFC Pineapple pie classTo find out how to help empower these young girls  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/scholarships.php

CCFC Conservation, Agroecology, Sustainable Living Learning Center Tara Jean Cahill 8

CCFC 1YClasses are held in the 40 foot tall open porch.
CCFC cleaning the cordwood before mortaring 1 with logoCleaning the log ends. Framework non-native Eucalyptus trees with logoThe framing timbers were all non-native Eucalyptus.  20 trees were planted for each tree felled.  The cordwood infill is mostly local pine. CCC15oo

Rob & Tara Cahill and Richard Flatau meet for the first time at the Cordwood Conference at Earthwood in upstate New York on July 12, 2015.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood at Maitreya Mountain Village in California

Maitreya Mountain Village is a permaculture community advocating sustainable living.  It is located in the mountains of California.  The community has built many different structures using natural building principles.   Here is an example of cordwood siding using a dark background and Western Red Cedar for the cordwood slices.  Cordwood at Maitreya Mountain Village in CA with logoThe “statement of purpose” from their Facebook page reads: “A remote wilderness permaculture farm, off-grid homestead, dynamic intentional community, and ever-evolving experiment in alternative living near Gasquet, CA.”  www.facebook.com/MaitreyaMountainVillage  Below is their beautiful multi-faceted tile community center.  As you can see, the mountain views are spectacular.

FB page of Maitreya Mountain Village PERMACULTURE AND COMMUNITY FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVINGThe treehouse is a masterwork of design and a window on a birds-eye-view of the surrounding countryside. FB page of Maitreya Mountain Village treehouse permaculture and community for sustainable livingThe floor of the community meeting house is both functional and beautiful.  A wood stove takes care of the early morning chill. FB page of Maitreya Mountain Village3To find out more or to plan a visit their website:  http://www.maitreyamountainvillage.com/FB page of Maitreya Mountain Village5All I can say is WOW!

FB page of Maitreya Mountain Village4

Statement of Spirituality from Maitreya Mountain Village:

  1. We value kindness as our religion and compassion as our doctrine, before all others
  2. We trust that a life of service is divine
  3. We affirm that sharing ourselves, our knowledge, and our material possessions creates unity and abundance
  4. We regard health as sacred, in all mental, social and physical forms
  5. We revere all life as holy
  6. We accept that freedom and love as the highest expressions of morality
  7. We adhere to a life of simplicity, inner-growth, and contentednes
  8. We reject violence and embrace understanding

Well spoken!

To learn more about Cordwood Construction for your own retreat visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org 

Or click on the book cover to see more pictures of cordwood (the home on the cover looks out at Pike’s Peak in Colorado).

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Cordwood with Cob Mortar is “Cobwood”

We had the distinct good fortune to participate in a Cordwood with Cob Mortar Workshop at Kinstone Permaculture Academy.  Building a Cobwood Entrance Center for the school was the order of the day.   A kidney-shaped grade beam had been put in place and the cobwood rises off a “gneiss” stone stem wall.

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The soil is first tested for clay content and the workability and firmness of the clay is determined by rolling a piece of clay for stiffness.  Note the sign which gives the cob mix proportions (2 sand, 1 clay, 1 sawdust, straw).

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Next the ingredients are mixed and stomped.  This can be a tedious process or a fun dance time:0)

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A loaf of the cob mixture is laid down like a regular cordwood mortar bead.  However the cob mortar beads are thicker.  Here we are using 5 inches of cob on the inside and outside, with a 6″ insulation cavity.

Cobwood workshop 1

The walls rise similar to cordwood, except the cob will slump sooner, so the wall must be built one or two rows at a time.

 

Smiles are an integral part of natural building.

Cobwood workshop 3

This cobwood entrance center is an experimental build for the northern Midwest, as there are only a few examples of cobwood homes in this large geographical area.  Since cob is not a good insulator,we are combining it with an insulation cavity to see if it can be adaptable to our very cold winters (-30 degrees below zero).

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We will keep you apprised of our progress and how the building functions, winter and summer.

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The children make great cob mixers.

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Our plan is to keep track of the cob kiosk and see what we can offer/add to the increasing interest in cobwood construction.

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The stem wall is being built with gneiss stone.

Below, we laid down a lime bead to highlight the insulation cavity.  The sawdust insulation is mixed with lime to prevent insect infestation.

Cobwood workshop 8

Having the Kinstone Cordwood Chapel in the background is a valuable source of inspiration.

Cobwood workshop 9

If you have questions or comments, please email them to me at richardflatau@gmail.com  Follow this blog for further updates.

For more information on cordwood construction using many different types of mortar go to www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Article in LaCrosse Tribune

The LaCrosse Tribune’s Allison Geyer wrote an outstanding article about Cordwood Construction in the Saturday, July 12, 2014 edition of the LaCrosse Tribune. The article not only gives a concise and accurate history of why and how we built our cordwood home in 1979, but it also details the reasons for building with cordwood in the 21st Century.

LaCrosse Tribune Cordwood Article

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 1Kristine, Jarad and Mike decide on log placement for the cordwood sauna.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 2

The stunningly beautiful cordwood chapel with thatched roof,  is ready for to provide a sanctuary for reflection.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 3

The interior is filled with motifs from nature.  This is the sunrise wall with plants, flowers and trees.  The center of the door has wood carvings to honor the Native American  presence in Buffalo County.

LaCrosse Tribrune artilce 4

The sideways slabs are the stems and the bottles are the flowers.  Imagination knows no bounds when building with cordwood.

To learn more about Kinstone Permaculture Academy   www.kinstonecircle.com 

To learn more about Cordwood Construction www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Email with questions    richardflatau@gmail.com  (copy and paste this email address)

Make doors for your cordwood cabin

People often ask me, “Why do builders spend all their time building a beautiful cordwood home and then slap a crummy door on it?”  I usually answer by saying they are probably tired after their labors and just want to get it enclosed, but, I also encourage owner/builders,  “If you have time,  consider making your own doors.”  I will show you a few outstanding examples of home-made doors and then give you a brief explanation of how to build a couple.

Gormely doors

Hand made doors by Bob Gormley for his Starwood Store in Backus, Minnesota.

FB page of Green Renaissance Door at St Edward's Parish Church in the Cotswolds, flanked by beautiful 18th century yew trees.

This one might take centuries:0)  St Edward’s Parish Church in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom, flanked by beautiful 18th century yew trees

FB page of Sigi via FB page of Jimmy's Farm Sigi says If you are considering building yourself a natural home, I recommend start  small so you can get a sense of the materials and the time take a hands-on workshop

Double door with strap hinges from Jimmy’s Farm in England.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 2

Don Noe’s door creations in Oregon.  Don built the one above (using mostly all recycled material for the building).  The one below is for a worm farm at Portland Community College.  Notice that the handles he made are worm like.

Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 1 The shed with the cord wood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  fromarborist

Here is a handmade door by Dan & Kristen of Merrill, Wisconsin.  Dan used a 2″ x 4″ framework, insulation in the center cavity, a 3/8″ sheet of BC Plywood on one side for rigidity and five, 6″ tongue and groove boards on the other.

Door b novitch cabin

Door d novitch cabin

The handles are a tree branch and a deer antler.

Door a novitch cabin

(Below)Dan and I are laying out the frame for a shed door for the Treehaven Organic Garden near Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  We are just beginning the layout and are scaring away the evil forces by revving up our cordless drills.  Vrrooom, vrrroooooooom.

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Here is the finished door:  A 2 x 4″ pressure treated framework, super heavy hinges and Norway Pine slabs for the front.  A broken canoe paddle has been resurfaced and wood burned for the unique handle.

Door at Treehaven with canoe paddle

Here is the young lady who cleaned up the canoe paddle door handle and helped mount it on the door.

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If you are interested in learning how to build using cordwood, go to www.cordwoodconstruction.org and look at the photos, read the articles, enjoy the eNewsletter and sign up for a workshop.   And if you are looking for a book, here, in my opinion is the best one on the market.

Cordwood 320 x 414Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices

Australian Owner Builder Magazine publishes Cordwood Article

The Australian magazine The Owner Builder recently published an article about cordwood construction in issue 182.  The Owner Builder Magazine also runs a website, a blog site, a print and digital magazine and workshops of all kinds.  Lynda (the editor) gave me permission to reprint parts of the article.  You can see the magazine’s table of contents as well. This article in larger print is available on my website at:  http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Cordwood_TOB.pdf

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The Owner Builder Magazine has a very enthusiastic, eclectic vibe (just like the Aussies).  Besides the excellent cordwood article, reviews and profiles, this issue also features Australia’s first Earth Ship,  Pole Frame and Mud Brick home,  an Earth Covered Stone Haven, Thea Alvin’s stone chapel, Earth Render (the art of clay plaster, render and paints) and much more.  There are also guides to workshops and builders and stories about the Wedge-Tailed Eagle House made of recycled poles and natural materials by four families.

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Table of Contents

This magazine does not take a purist stance, but rather a utilitarian view with an eye for alternative and repurposed materials.  I think you will like the far ranging and unique expression this magazine offers.

Owner Builder Sidebars

Owner Builder Sidebars

Review of Cordwood Construction by Rob Roy

Review of Cordwood Construction by Rob Roy

I would encourage you to look at the Cordwood Article and the surrounding reviews and Owner/Builder expert sidebars.  It is truly a sumptuous feast.   It comes in print form and as an eMagazine.   Ordering instructions are included.

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Back Cover Thea Alvin's Chapel Gardens

Back Cover Thea Alvin’s Chapel Gardens

In addition to our Cordwood Workshops, Thea Alvin of www.myearthwork.com will also be doing stone workshops at Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture in the summer of 2014  http://kinstonecircle.com/

To find out more about cordwood, to order ebooks and print books, to sign up for a workshop, read cordwood articles and the most recent cordwood newsletter go to my favorite cordwood website www.cordwoodconstruction.org