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.