Friday, May 13, 2011

Clay in May recap, along with clay of a different kind...

Thanks to everybody who came out to make our second annual 'Clay in May' event a success. The event keeps growing with more people finding their way out to our little neck of the woods every year. The weather was beautiful despite the forecasts calling for rain.
The party at our place Saturday night was great. We had a good turn out with a really nice mix of pottery lovers, potters, friends, and community members.

A big thanks to Rick Harris as well for the great music.

And of course no outdoor event is complete without s'mores.

Since 'Clay in May' I've been helping with a clay project of a different nature. Helping to build a clay/straw insulated building. It's an interesting alternative to straw bale construction. With the clay/straw insulation being more resistant to moisture/mold, due to the clay's ability to wick moisture out of the wall cavity. The clay is applied as a very thin slip to just coat the outside of the straw in a tumbler, built just for the purpose.

You can see in the above picture slip being sprayed onto the straw as the straw is being tumbled through the pipe by the large tongs you can see in the upper right corner. The whole contraption is on a tilt, so the straw clay mixture then simply drops out the far end into a bin which can then be lifted up to those working on the wall by means of a skid steer.

The straw is then compressed into place between 2' plywood forms, by simply walking on it. The forms are then moved up the wall as more straw in added. The building we worked on was already a preexisting structure. If one were to start from scratch the roof would be added on latter to make stomping the straw into place more comfortable.

Unfortunately there were scattered thunderstorms when I brought my camera, so you can't see the entire building as much of it was covered in tarp to protect it from the pounding rain while it dries out (it will later be plastered to protect it from the elements). It's really quite beautiful though after the forms come off. I'm quite lucky to be able to supplement my pottery income helping out with project such as this. It was a great experience.

Now I'm off to North Carolina to help Julie Jones with the first firing of the entire kiln we built last fall. Should be fun! I'll do my best to keep everybody posted.

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