cob oven, natural building

Natural Building and Creative Projects

Upcomming projects: a cob Moai, bush bath, cob oven, cordwood outhouse, cob sauna, large sundial, cob benches and walls, and many other creative projects.

Natural building and creative space.We are people working and learning in a relaxed, fun, creative enviroment.

.Those who are interested can come and work with us and learn about natural building techniques.As I build and learn,I'm hoping to teach others and get them on the road to more sustainable living.Areas covered are cob, cordwood walls, rubble foundations, green roofs, earth sheltering, passive solar heating, gray water systems, masonry and general construction.

The concept I'm trying to follow is a common one in the natural building community;to share work, experience, knowledge, ideas and most importantly, creativity. There will be plenty of time to to discuss natural building and on clear nights I will be setting up my telescope.


One of our projects for this spring is to build a bush bath like this one I built a few years ago while Wwoofing in New Zealand.


The lot is 2 acres of glacier run off, with a lot of sand, clay, gravel, rock, boulders and covered with white cedar-everything needed to build a sustainable home.With a great south view for passive solar heating.This picture is taken looking south.The hill I'm standing on will have the main house partially buried in it, helping to protect the north side from cold north winter winds.

The accommodations are simple but comfortable.There are two heated camper tailers with propane stoves and many spots to pitch a tent.There,s also our hammock grove where there are usually 4-5 hammocks at any given time.On clear nights, its a great place to sleep.We have a bbq and hope to soon have a cob oven.Our toilet is a outhouse,soon to be replace with a cordwood one we will call "Orion".Bathing is via a solar shower(fancy term for 15 liters of water in a black bag with a nozzle sprayer-you would be surpriced how hot the sun can make water) and soon a bush bath like above.We also have the neighbours pond for swimming and bathing.Trying to be sustainable, everything is minimalized.Same with our electricy.Power is by 4 canadian tire solar panels and car booster packs. You may be shocked to find out how little electricity you need to be comfortable.

ABOVE:You'll know you have found us when you see the "mushroom entrance".There are many mushrooms on my lot-cement mushrooms that is!These are made from left over cement and concrete from my work.All the mushrooms have certainly peaked the locals interest, bringing people in to say hello.

BELOW:We built this bench the weekend of June 4th.The stone sills were waste from one of my jobs


June 22, 2010

Heres the prototype of my sundial.It's concrete,34" in diameter and 4 " thick,weighing approx 200lbs.Someone pointed out that grey/black may not be the best color for a sundial-good point.The shadow on the dark base is quite visable anyways.I will be testing it at different locations and when the right spot is found we will build a 8 ft diameter sundial that will also be a table and weighing 2000-3000lbs. Can anyone till me how I screwed up the prototype?

Progress on the bush bath is going well.Since its being built from stone and on a hill,it's a lot of work,especially getting all the stones and mortar up the hill.I draged the clawfoot tub from the road to this spot(200-300 meters) last january by myself

26 JUNE 2010

We got down the base for the bush bath,just love the colors and smoothness of this glasier run off rock.The stones are laid in concrete,with gaps left for mortar.I know concrete and mortar is not the most enviromently friendly,but it will hold up much better that the alternatives.As much as possible we are using sand and gravel from the lot and offcouse the stones are from the lot.

.Deeter and his very nice wife and cool daughters are my neighbours to the west of me.Infact they surround me on 2 sides with their 57 arces.They poped by to say hello and offcource where drawned in by the mushrooms.Such a great guy.First he's an electrictian and knows all the local contractors.Second,he filled us in on who we should meet and where to go,all the trails and lakes accessable just walking distance from me.Just endlessly helpfull and welcoming.He told us to feel free to roam around his woods and fields anytime and use his pond for swiming,fishing and water if we need it.
Deeter's pond may look weedy,but isn't.The bottom is mostly sand and gravel.To top it all off the route ,soon to be path from all the trips to the pond,has a crabapple tree.I love crabapples.Everything about this property is falling nicely into place,with wonderfull surprises almost every trip.Deeter and his family was a big one.
Our sitting hill.Facing north west gets very nice light from sunsets and is a wonderfull place to sit and reflect.With the sundial in front of the largest bench,you can sit and watch the shadow slowly creap accross the dial or Because the gnomon(the part that casts the shadow)points to Polaris,it's a great place to watch the concelations rotate around Polaris.
One of three bat houses I installed in march.For those who don't know,bats consume a huge number of bugs, making it more liveable outside and also consume pests that damage gardens, friuts and vegitables.Also, bat habitat is on a drastic decline.So far, no luck with bats taking up residence, but it can take time.One of the problems may be there arn't enought bugs.Kind of a strange problem to have.
Our little hammock grove.There's enough room for 6-8 hammocks.It's been a great place for us to get out of the sun and have conversations.When theres no chance of rain some of us sleep out there.I love sleeping there on clear nights and opening my eyes to see the stars or moon.
Below is a rather large bench, but it turned out to look more like an alter.It was built the first week in July and made from stabilized earth.Bascily we used the local earth and stones with a small amount of portland cement as the stabilizer.It's on the hill facing south and met to be a place to sit or lie and watch the southern sky.Right now in july there are great views of Sagittarius(the teapot) and Scorpius.It is also designed for termal mass and I hope that even in the winter,on sunny days it will absorb and retain warmth.
A glacier stone and stablized earth bench.I build it in this place as the sun sets in this spot most of the winter.It will be nice to sit there and have the sunset beam down on you in january and febury.I love the feel of working stabilized earth with my bare hands.Unlike the normal masonry I usually work with,the low portland content,high clay content feels awesome in the hands
2/Aug/2010:We have bats.The best I can tell we have atleast 3 bats.not many,but its a start.My goal is to have 300-500 in my colony



The base.
The finished cob oven. We were so excited and wraped up in the process that we forgot to take constriction pics.
Our first fire.

Left:Emma and Sidney in their Price is Right poses.

Below:The oven in full blaze.The burgers we made that night turned out great.

Emma and Sidneys daycare.On the morning of sept 2nd 2010,Mitch and I went to their daycare to help 15 kids make my cement mushrooms.Never could I inagine that these mushrooms would end with me in a daycare 2 hours north of toronto.It all went very well thanks to Dieters support(the standing guy in the first pic,my nieghbour and Emma and Sidneys dad)
Here we start our Moai, also know as an Easter Island Head.Again, it's made from stablized earth .It will be about 8-9 feet tall and I estimate around 6-9 thousand lbs.I don't have much of a foundation, you may think a solid 10k lb structure may not need much of a foundation.BUT!!,1 cubic inch of ice displaces 150 tons of force,so my 18 inch foundation will do very little against the ground freezing.Or maybe its perfect.The way I see it is if the ground heaves and moves the Moai,it may tilt.Perfect! couldn't ask for better- a tilted Easter Island head.
It was Ryan"s idea to put a tattoo on his neck.
At this point we had to rethink our design.It started out looking like a Moai, but some how started to look like Stalin.Not quite sure where things went wrong.
Marvin the Moai 60% complete.So far He's standing at 6'5",figure the final height will be around 8.5 feet.
Marvin is finally complete


Castlerock Masonry
304 Jones Avenue, Unit 208
Toronto, Ontario
M4M 3A6
(416) 882-8230

All images are copyright Castlerock Masonry 2006