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Natural Building and Plasters Intensive
February 13 - February 19
This 7 day intensive workshop will introduce students to the theory and practice of building with clay; using adobes, cob and wattle and daub. We will also spend ample time and energy learning and applying natural plasters including the water resistant and luscious traditional Moroccan lime plaster, Tadelakt.
At the end of this course students will understand the roles of each of the ingredients involved in natural earthen mixtures both for plasters and for building. This key understanding will allow students to apply this knowledge when building for themselves or in other situations, empowering students to go on and build successfully with natural materials.
This class will be perfect for people looking for an introduction to natural building or for people who already have some plastering or building experience and would like to learn some new techniques, tricks or finishes.
Foundations introduction & theory
Designing your house in any climate
How to assess your soils & mix
Wall systems theory and introduction
Building with Adobe and Cob
Clay base coats, how to level
Wall systems theory continued
Building with Wattle and Daub
Introduction to Lime & Lime base coat application
Rest, waterfall, river, hike, chocolate tour
Plastering – clay leveling coat
Earthen floor prep
Natural Building Tour of the Ranch
Straw Clay Finish coat
Earthen floor base coat
Earthen floor theory
Polished lime theory
Tadelakt and Fresco application
Earthen floor finishes
instructor(s)/teaching organization bio(s)
Nic Donati, Rancho Mastatal’s Director of Natural Building and Appropriate Technology, first came to the Ranch in 2007 and fell in love with the community and lifestyle he experienced there. Always good with his hands and wanting to get stuck in meant he was able to develop a wide range of skills both at the Ranch and other farms around the world. The lure of the Ranch both as a community and working environment have continually drawn him back and he now considers the Ranch community and Mastatal his home.
He enjoys many aspects about living at the Ranch including communal living, proximity to wild and natural habitats, running around on the football field, solving diverse problems, and wielding tools from chisels to chainsaws to trowels. He really loves and appreciates the freedom afforded to him to express and practice his ideas, develop new skills and hone existing ones, but above all else he believes in the ideology of the Ranch.
He believes that to engage, educate and nurture a desire in people to change the way we live and take more responsibility for every aspect of our lives from food production, to healthcare, to energy production and everything else in between is the only way things are going to change.
Ali has had a love for working with her hands her whole life. Starting at a young age building chicken coops, to finding the art of natural building in 2014 at the Ranch. Since becoming a part of the team here, she has worked on multiple structures and homes, including her own.
She enjoys each stage for different reasons, from the framing to the earthen floors and plasters. Finding beauty in the repetition, the joy of times shared with others, and the excitement of finishing a project.
She believes it’s empowering to know and teach these basic skills of building your own home. And to be able to do it in a mindful and sustainable way.
course start and ARRIVAl dates
The class begins at 7.30 a.m. on February 13. The night before the class begins, February 12, is included in the cost of the class. You must arrive before 6.30pm the night before, we will not be able to attend you after this time.
course end and departure dates
The last day of the class is February 19. The night of February 19 is included in the cost of the class.
Cost includes food, lodging and course instruction.