It's hard to talk to people about beauty and building. Last fall, a friend of a friend came by to see our house-in-progress. He looked appreciatively at our modest but well-built structure -- which I have been ornamenting by cutting curves in rafter tails and support brackets -- and said, "why are you spending all this time to cut fancy shapes when you have a house to build?" Before I could reply, he said, almost to himself, "Oh, you're an artist," as if that explained otherwise aberrant behavior, like a diagnosis of disease. For years I have taken offense at what felt to me . . .
Earth Art in Oregon Maia Fischler and friends made this mural on Maia's house using local earth and powdered concrete tints mixed with waterglass. Maia said "I hadn't planned to paint the brown areas but as time wet by the mud turned a pretty boring color so I decided to do it at the last minute. Sadly, [the masonry supply place] was closed for the weekend, so I went to Home Depot and got some liquid concrete tint, which wasn't as nice. (You couldn't control the consistency so it was pretty runny when mixed -- a little less than 1 to 1 -- with the waterglass.) Beautiful work! Her account . . .
Make a sustainable, yurt-style shelter, by hand, with materials your can find and harvest yourself. Come June, Kiko Denzer will lead a week-long intensive natural building project to perfect a design for a simple, affordable, efficient and beautiful yurt made of sticks, string, and mud (6/9-15, Aprovecho Inst., Cottage Grove, OR; information and registration here. For design description and photos, click here.) If you're interested in a full year learning opportunity in natural building, home heat (ovens, rocket-stoves, and masonry heaters), traditional green woodwork, basic blacksmithing, . . .