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29 & 30 Jun 09

I have to say, this project has led us to meet some really fantastic people. The amount of interest we've had in our li'l ole hut is amazing and always surprises me. Every time we have people on site it brings a lovely new energy that helps keep us going.

Here's Brenda and Mark who're hoping to build their own earthship in Portugal. They motorhomed down from Gloucestershire to join us for the last two days of June.

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The first job Dave and Mark took on was to re-centre those pesky columns. After much measuring, humming, haaing and rubbing of chins they set to drilling the new hole for the rebar.

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While Brenda and I took on the surprisingly lengthy task of treating and whitewashing the ceiling planks.

 
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Day 2 and it's time for those ceiling planks to be screwed in position - a job for Brenda and Dave.

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Mark had a quick go at pounding a tyre...

 
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...and then showed me how a professional plasterer makes mud pies, ooops, sorry Mark, makes wattle and daub. I know we're getting ahead of ourselves but we had to take the opportunity to learn from a professional didn't we?

This was the first time Mark had made wattle and daub and as the mix includes dirt from the site which can be different depending on where you are, we did some experimenting. The standard recipe (I told you we were making pies) is 1/2 sifted plasterers sand to 1/4 sifted dirt to 1/4 chopped straw.

We didn't have plasterers sand so we sifted the builders sand we did have. Our first attempt wasn't very sticky and didn't want to stay on the wall.

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After looking at our dirt, which is very sandy, we tried 6 ltrs sand, 6 ltrs dirt and 3 ltrs straw. We also tried it onto a dry wall and with our hands rather than the trowel and hawk (does it sound like I know what I'm talking about?). This was better, but still not brilliant.

I feel like I'm telling you the story of the three bears. Are you sitting comfortably children? Then I'll continue....

Our last recipe adjustment ditched the sand altogether which left us with 6 ltrs dirt to 3 ltrs straw. You should've seen the smile on Mark's face when he tested this mix. And even more so when we did a finish coat without the straw - pure mud, pure magic!

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I'm so looking forward to finishing the walls. The process is lovely - user friendly, organic and fun (I know, I don't get out much these days). The mud mix stays wet and maleable for ages, you use your hands to slap it on the wall and spread it around and if you need to smooth a bit after it's dry you simply spray with water and off you go again - marvelous!

Thank you guys for all your hard work, enthusiasm and knowledge.

Right: Brenda and Mark with the extra section of finished ceiling.

 
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