Monday, April 21, 2014

a little diddly about the Wash Closet..

Well the bathroom, ie, the wash closet has been the last room that needed attention and it has been humbling how long it has taken. It's still not done, as there are so many details in this here bathroom!
First off, I built the shower stall out of the remaining brick and glass block from the re-store and plastered it with white portland cement. The floor needed to be raised to accommodate the drain and to make sure that the flow of water actually went d o w n the drain. I found a cute toilet at the re-store as well and set it in place.
Then came the extremely ambitious part- the floor... I think it was Christian's idea to have a little of Brazil in the house- and the boardwalks on the beaches in Rio are pretty amazing- so we picked Ipenema's design to copy and well, a million hours later here it is! YES I did lay almost ALL those little stones one by one. Once in a lifetime, and never again. 
The shower has also morphed into well, a shower. I will very likely never be electively be tiling again. Grouting just simply put, sucks. 
I am guessing with all this creative attention in the WC it will be a sweet place to relax with a shower at the end of a hard day. Black, White and Red. Here are some of the pics:

 ...and ta da- the grouting of the floor is complete!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Natural Plaster and never ending details

I have always wanted to be in a beautiful mud plastered house. We live in the abundance of good clay soil and most older local houses and all the homes on the Taos Pueblo were built exclusively of adobe bricks, and mud. Mud is colloquial for natural earth/clay with straw plaster. 
I could go on about how great of a building material it is and how sustainable it is, how long it lasts...but I'll stay on point. 
Nowadays it is not easy to get a building permit for a load bearing adobe structure, so people mix and match materials to try and get a similar look at least.
I really wanted a warm earthen room to sleep in- and one way to get that is to apply an Alis coat over existing gypsum plaster for example. My talented neighbour, and master plasterer, Carol Crews wrote a very informative and sweet book called
Clay Culture: Plasters, Paint and Preservation, which has many recipes and directions for do it yourselfers. After mixing a batch of lovely clay, sand, mica, pigment and straw, I brushed it on the walls and watched them transform. I had some help applying the Alis from Jossen and Marianne as well. Once it was dry I wanted it even darker so I rolled on several coats of linseed oil- which also seals the walls. The pictures below show the straw and the mica, but don't quite do it justice, as the mica sparkles so beautifully in the daylight.

And the never ending details include, the kitchen coming together, the tile going up in the shower, and the staining and oiling of the wood all around. And the floor going in, we are using pre finished maple plywood, which is an inexpensive alternative to a hardwood floor. It will be no shoes floor, and only time will tell how long it will last. In Kodiak's room the plywood also had some surprisingly interesting grain patterns: reminds me of roots.