Cobbing my cottage

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Time is speeding up

The more I do, the more there seems to be to do - but at the same time I can see real progress and bright light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily the tunnel I am walking in, is not dark itself but a happy natural alleyway (at most times) that is encapsulating me in its organic embrace...

Days turn into nights, nights into vivid dreams, Tuesdays into Fridays, everything gets mashed up in a strange, abstract way, which bends time and my understanding of it. Only particular appointments and pre-planned schedules root me back onto a 'normal' human time. Big events like the cordwood (or cobwood) reaching the ceiling height, windows going in, getting a front-door frame, installing a roof make me realise that real progress is taking place - a livable space is being built, which I will eventually inhabit. I have no silly dreams about the timescale of when that will happen; when will everything be finished - because I know slowly but surely that day will come. It will most likely not be this summer, unless a miracle takes place - not that I don't believe in miracles - but I am not pressured to fully finish this build in three weeks - the time it takes is the time it takes... the day I can step inside, close the front door and look around me and see a finished space, may, in fact, never happen. My cottage was always going to be a journey. Why should it have a particular end-point, a date of completion? Isn't life a flow, a wave, a spiral, a continuous shifting of energy?

Beez (Carla) making a cob mix.
My lovely new volunteer Carla, or Beez, as she likes to be called, came last week from Grimsby, England, to help me with my build. She learnt the ropes pretty quickly and the cobbing side of things has really progressed since, she has been working hard on digging clay, making mixes and cobbing walls. I have also been cobbing with her but because of the extra help, I have also had some time for designing, re-stringing bales, mortaring stones and acquiring the most annoying summer flu, which would have been a disaster if I had been here on my own. While writing this I am still ill and struggling to breathe and talk (I have asthma so flu makes it worse) but slowly starting to feel a bit better, which is good considering I have a full class of local primary school children coming over on Thursday to try out a hand in some very muddy natural building.

On Friday I will also be parting company with my sweet little son, who flies back to London to be with his father for the rest of the school holidays. I will miss him dearly but being on my own will give me time to fully focus on the build (read: most likely go insane) for the remainder of the time I am here, until early September. And for him to have fun with his father and friends that he has been missing while in Finland. But of course, he has had lots of fun, through his explorations in the nature and forest, finding toads, lizards, dragonflies, ants, butterflies, birds and other wonderful little things. Inspired by nature just as much as I am, he is one of my greatest inspiration - him and his wonderful child's way of being and seeing. When I look at him jumping around, trying to catch grasshoppers, I can feel my own inner child jumping around with him (when I am not physically joining him). To build this cottage is only possible through my connection to my inner child, cherishing little pleasures, living in the moment and having no fear. Or having the fear, but doing it anyway. :)
My son on the roof looking through the skylight.

Since photos are said to be worth more than thousands of words, and it will save me some time to keep writing them out, here is a sequence of things in pictures that have been going on at the site throughout the week. As usual, I find it hard to remember what happened in the week, so I refresh my memory by looking through the pictures, and sometimes even through my Facebook updates... as I said, time speeds up and blends into one and my flu filled head doesn't seem to retain a lot of coherent information. Not sure if things blending together is a good or a bad thing, but it often happens when I immerse in my art...

Friday's progress from outside.
Fridays progress from inside - I inserted four pieces of red sandblasted glass I made in the Spring.
Sandblasted (water) glass pieces inserted into the cob over the window.
A Detail of one sandblaster glass piece with a spiral shell form
We started piling up the strawbale wall in the weekend, which is taking time while I am restringing the too loose bales.
A cob (shoe and hat) shelf with a blue bottle at the entrance.

My son was getting restless, so I built him a quick teepee around one of the birch trees, with a view to the building site.
Jani planning the doorframe.
Our neighbour, Jani, came to the rescue once more, and swiftly built me a doorframe in few hours from bits and pieces we and he had. I am very grateful for his help, and it feels great to 'step inside' my cottage, even though like most men, he was struggling to make 'wonky' (but I think he's enjoying the process of allowing it to happen) :) My job is now to cob an arch over the doorway and attach some natural wood forms onto the uprights to make it all look more organic. Notable maybe is that the door height will be about 170cm, which is tall enough for me, children, childminded adults and hobbits. And that's about the only kinds of beings, who are allowed in this building. :)

Carla reached the ceiling height with 'cobwood' part of the wall on Sunday, so she is now cobbing other parts of the cottage. This is the internal view from the cottage this morning. At the background there is also a glimpse of my brand new doorframe.

Last progress photo from 'behind' the cottage, taken last night - my father was working on a wooden window frame for the strawbale wall as well as attaching wooden stakes into the rows of bales with me. I am struggling to get six rows of bales on top of each other, so may have to settle for five and figure out how to fill the top gap later - yes, the joys of making the eaves all wonky and different angles. I can only blame myself... but hey, I am not blaming!

This is the way the cottage looks at the moment. Carla started cob plastering the earthbags in the front and adding some more cob over the windows. On the other side of the cottage I have started building the base for an experimental cob/pizza oven which will sit inside the wall and have an opening only to the outside. Continuing with this, is my task for tomorrow, along with building up the strawbale wall, which needs to be finished for plastering, ideally as soon as possible. As usual, after a day off, I am itching to get my hands muddy again - I leave you with a photo from Monday that Beez took of me outside the cottage. Until next week. x

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