Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hand sculpting an earthen home

I have really enjoyed the whole building process but these final stages are really what have been looking forward too, plastering and sculpting details that make it our home. 

As I needed to wait for the walls to dry properly before plastering I carried on with other jobs, like laying the floors first. Here you can see the gravel base which we collected near by and rammed to make the base.

Leaving a space for the built in seat

ramming the base of the floor

The base is finished with a thin layer of concrete to then lay the tiles on.
Misheck came back to lay the tiles and did a great job. All the tiles are made locally, we put them in the living area and in one bedroom 

and we put tiles for the kitchen on the verandah

Making the clay shelves was really fun, I placed bricks underneath to support the earth mixture whilst they dried. These shelves are above the kitchen counter.

starting the second shelf

I also made shelves inside like this one above the area where the bed will be

I collected different coloured earth to test plasters and clay paints, there are beautiful colours and it's a lot of fun mixing and testing 
I installed the window frames using expansion bolts which worked very well.

I glazed all the windows including this one in the door

Here you can see the back of the ceiling panels I am trying out, they are reed mats that we have sewn empty and flattened milk cartons and other tetra packs to it. The idea is that it will be like a radiant heat barrier for the roof. 

Oly helping out with the layers of plaster inside,  I have been applying the layers by hand and making any hard edges rounded and soft. I did lots of tests for the best mix, using 4 buckets of pit sand from the plot and 1 of clay worked really well. I have done 2 layers inside so far.

Here I am making a base for our bed so that it is raised up and the central area will have space for a large drawer for storage
Making the base for the built in seat.
I made walls with the adobe bricks and then placed chicken wire between the layers. The spaces underneath the seat are going to be storage spaces.
Layering a clay and sand mixture to make the seat.

Playing around with pieces of an old broken mirror to see what I will lay into the wall

sculpting an 'ndoro in the wall with a piece of mirror in the centre

I placed pieces of mirror and cowrie shells between the bottles in the living area

a small decorative shelf that I am layering up with a small moroccan door inside

Applying the first layer of plaster to the outside, I will finish with a lime plaster  for extra protection.

More tiles for the verandah

I placed some small battery operated fairylights in one of the bottles above the kitchen counter, it makes a nice effect.

I managed to finish the first layer of plaster on the outside of the house and these extra tiles for a sitting area on the verandah. I'm happy with how the house is coming along, I still need to do some other layers of plaster on the inside and finish with a light yellow clay paint. The outside needs a lime plaster coat and I need to fit the ceiling panels, these are the main jobs to finish off. I am off for a long awaited break and will be back in a few weeks to finish these jobs, and build a store room and retaining wall around the house, then we will be ready to move in!!