Natural Building Materials Essentials Workshop

Natural Building Materials Essentials Workshop
Friday, June 15, 3-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 16, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Member: $85 for both days
Public: $110 for both days
Register Here

Join natural building experts Deanne Bednar and Tyler Sheaffer for this two-day, hands-on intensive workshop at Wellfield Botanic Gardens. Help construct a sustainably-built children’s tool shed in our new Children’s Garden, a gift from the Rex and Alice A. Martin Foundation. This whimsically ‘kid-scale’ tool shed will feature slip-straw (light clay straw) construction, cob sculpting, and a bottle wall section!  Participants will also see a side demo of strawbale wall construction and earth plaster.

This is a great opportunity to get hands-on with experts in the field — preparing you to design and construct using local, natural, and sustainable materials of the Midwest. All participants will get their hands dirty across a sampling of building methods including earthen plaster, cob, light clay straw which use different combinations of clay, sand, and straw. Friday evening will include some mixing of materials, hands on with a light clay straw panel, demo of earth plaster on a Strawbale, an interpretive slideshow featuring our instructor’s past projects, a delicious dinner from The Moringa Tree, and time for Q&A and socializing.

After breakfast on your own on Saturday morning, we’ll get started at 9 a.m. at the Children’s Garden. Participants will experience multiple methods of building, co-creating the wall system for the Tool Shed. There will be plenty of smooshing, schmacking, and schmeering, and everyone will get to try their hand at detail-work including bottle wall and sculpting of cob. Lunch and refreshments are provided. By the end of the workshop on Saturday, you’ll not only have helped create a lasting piece of Wellfield Botanic Gardens, but you’ll have practice and confidence-enough to try your own backyard sustainable construction project! 

Meet your instructors:

  • Strawbale Studio imageDeanne Bednar studied natural building with the Cob Cottage Company in 1996 and since then has been involved in co-creating numerous small buildings using a variety of construction techniques: strawbale, cob, light clay straw and compressed earth block. She is the coordinator and teacher at Strawbale Studio in Oxford Michigan, where you can experience enchanting structures with both thatched and living roofs and learn about natural building and sustainable living skills. Background: middle school Art teacher & Sustainable Futures teacher. Degree in Social Ecology. Illustrator of The Hand-Sculpted House, the Natural Plaster Book and the Cobbers Companion. Loves to forage and use natural local materials! For more information visit:
  • Tyler Sheaffer gets excited about creating beautiful structures with simple, local, and natural materials. He studies traditional ways of creating human habitat and spends much of his time experimenting and adapting folk building wisdom to meet our current needs. He believes natural building is an important step for moving into a life-sustaining paradigm and away from an industrial exractivism paradigm. Natural building is a great forum for human connection, connection to the earth, and connection to our ancestors and where we’ve come from. Through natural building we can become more powerful, resilient, and harmonious.

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