Some years ago now, I got an unexpected email from Elke Cole, a German-born architect now living in Canada, whom I had originally met at the first Natural Building Colloquium in Oregon, in the mid 90s. Elke was traveling in Germany, where sheâ€™d come across a public art project in a park in Berlin. It was full of earthen sculptures made by a German artist named Rainer Warzecha. At the time, I was collecting stories and photos to expand a little pamphlet about earthen art projects (Dig Your Hands in the Dirt). But most of what I had were small scale projects: benches, ovens, and things . . .
purchase As you might suspect, a book with this title features many photos of barefoot kids happily stomping in the mud. Mud huts and mud pies conjure up pictures of primitive peoples and childish pleasures. But then you realize that the kids aren't in Africa, but in Washington DC, Chicago, Portland (Oregon), and Berlin. And they aren't all kids! Looking past the pictures of giddy, muddy fun, here is substantial and serious inspiration and practical lessons for artists, teachers, students, and designers, as well as builders interested in natural materials like adobe (and, more recently, . . .
Here's the lovely, two-tier yurt that Bill Coperthwaite helped us build in October of '09. (And here are my followup explorations that adapted the design by going back to traditional sticks and basket as well as incorporating earthen plasters -- simpler to build, and better performance and comfort in wetter climates.) It's on the grounds of the Ancient Arts Center near Alsea, just a long leap over a couple of ridges, into the next drainage south of us (the Alsea River). We finished the woven willow and mud walls in May of '09. If you want to come help, we'll be having more workshops . . .