Create Sacred Space: A Complete Cob, Summer Solstice, Natural Building Workshop
June 6th-June 21st, 2015
A California Cob Workshop
In this 16 day, comprehensive cob workshop, we will show you the basics of building a small cob cottage, from foundation to roof, and everything in between. Rob Sequoia Pollacek of California Cob is a master natural builder with 16 years of professional cob building experience.
In our workshop, we’ll be building a round cob sauna, with a stone and mortar foundation, load bearing cob walls, a curved ridge beam, round pole rafters, with a tongue and groove ceiling and an earthen roof. We’ll install a custom sauna door and 2 opening windows with window sills, make and install door trim, install a wood stove, hearth and a chimney. We’ll carve out altar niches with stone sills and work on bas-relief sculptures. We’ll also guide you through the process of making natural earthen plasters from our local soil, and we’ll finish the workshop by plastering the outside of the sauna.
You will use the relatively “small” project of building a sauna to learn first hand the many topics needed to build a cob house. You’ll personally go through the whole process of building this “mini” house and leave this workshop feeling confident to go home and build a larger cob structure of your own. And if building a full house isn’t where you’re headed quite yet, you’ll know all there is to know about building your own cob sauna!! A perfect first project.
Starting out by building with stone and mortar using our local granite, we’ll work on the foundation for our cob building project. Then we will transition into the heart of our workshop: learning to mix and build with cob, a monolithic, adobe building material consisting of clay soil, sand and straw. We’ll start out with traditional workshop foot-mixing techniques, giving you the fundamental understanding of how to mix this ancient building material. We’ll quickly move into learning to mix with a cement mixer, and then finally how to mix cob with a tractor.
Maximum 8 Students.
Since 2001, Rob has been mixing cob with a tractor, and has invented a moveable form system that greatly decreases the time of building with cob. Here is Rob talking specifically about his teaching and building style:
I’ve done this exclusively for my last 16 cob projects. I’ve made hundreds of batches of tractor cob and have refined my technique to the point where I can make about 5 cubic yards of very well mixed cob per hour. Whether you own a tractor, or will rent or borrow a tractor, I can teach you all you’ll need to know to be able to make your own tractor cob at home, ensuring that you’ll be able to make enough cob to finish your cob project in one building season.
I’ll also teach you in a very hands on way my moveable cob form system, which allows for very quick cob wall building. I created, and have been refining and using this system for the last 15 years. We’ll use this system exclusively to build the cob walls on this building. Combining this moveable form system with the ability to make large amounts of cob with a tractor dramatically improves the speed and efficiency of building cob walls over traditional methods.
We’ll spend a fair bit of time working on the roof of the sauna, aiming for a completely closed in building by the end of the workshop. Using load bearing lintels with a curved ridge beam and 12 round pole rafters, we’ll construct a timber framed living roof, complete with a 2 x 6 tongue and groove ceiling.
Understanding the relationship between a cob building and its roof is a fundamental piece of creating a cob structure and something you wont want to miss. I’ll show you the finer points of building this beautiful earthen roof, right down to the finish trim detail.
We’ll close by creating and applying our own earthen plaster mix, sourced from local clay soil, putting the icing on the cake of our freshly created sacred space.
This 16 day “complete cob” workshop includes 3 meals a day, on-site camping and daily outdoor class room time. Meals will be locally sourced veggies, sustainably and humanely raised meat, mostly organic and cooked with care and love. Students that want to stay in a local B and B or in a friend’s home will also receive the meals. Hot showers, composting toilets, a shared outdoor living room and music, singing and camp fun will also be a part of our experience.
Classroom time, separate from building time, will cover such topics as fundamentals of cob, sourcing materials, proper siting and drainage of a building, passive solar design, thermal mass vs. insulation, staying within a budget, hosting a workshop, being a professional natural builder and creating a hybrid house using straw bale and cob together.
To register or ask questions call Rob Pollacek 530-913-0846
To see more of Rob and Samantha’s work visit: californiacob.com Updates: follow Mud and Pearls on Facebook
Dirt to Dreams: Building a Cob House in 21 Days
Our Kickstarter campaign is launched! Click the link to view the trailer for the documentary “Dirt to Dreams: Building a Cob House in 21 Days”. We are making amazing progress on this building and need your help getting this film out and spreading the word about the revolutionary benefits of Cob!
2013 Complete Cob Natural Building Retreat
This one day to three week long sacred space class will invigorate the soul and body, for each day will start with yoga and organic fresh food, a community of like minded students who will be along for this journey in the woods of the Yuba watershed. Rob Pollacek of California Cob teaches clearly all aspects of a naturally built building, from the foundation, raising the walls of cob, setting the framing for the roof, and correct construction of an earthen roof. Lessons in sustainability, natural living, community, and personal growth are all a part of this retreat. You will leave this retreat fully confident in building a cob building from scratch from your local materials. Each day can be taken as an individual class; see syllabus section below.
One week option now available! For a Cob Intensive, join us from September 10-17th. If you are interested in foundation or earthen roof more, please contact Samantha or Rob directly at (530) 362-8082.
This retreat will be beautiful, sited on a rolling slope under oak trees on the edge of the Yuba River. Our food will be prepared with love and joy by an experienced chef, using organic food and some wildcrafted plants. The San Juan Ridge is a warm, welcoming place chock full of inspiring natural buildings which we will tour, and the weather in September is exceptional. The Ridge, as it is known, has a yoga studio, a cultural center, a natural food store and an cafe within 10 minutes of the site, even though it is very rural. Additionally, this workshop will be filmed to create two short films about cob building. To talk to Samantha or Rob about the class, you can call Samantha at (530) 362-8082 or Rob at (530) 913-0846.
About the Syllabus and Schedule (Build a house in 21 days):
Syllabus is set to change at any point. This is our best guess on the timeline of this building/classes. Register below for any individual days.
Day 1—Sept 6th
Dinner & celebration of Mikhel’s birthday,
Introductions: Who we are, Why are you here?, Staff introduction, Overview of workshop Syllabus/ daily schedule.
Day 2—Saturday, Sept 7 th
9 am-Trip to cob sauna
11-12:30 Stone Foundation hands-on, Rock gathering/ rock placement, How to make concrete in a mixer, Pour front door sill, Establishing a finished floor, Buttresses by the front door & bench
Class– proper surface drainage–Trench/drain/ concrete grade beam–Bringing in the amenities—Power, water, propane and phone. How to get drains out
Day 3— Sunday, Sept 8th
9 am- Stone Foundation Hands-On: Using Chinkers/Mortar
Demo—Mortaring/ sponge-ing/ pointing
Class- Anatomy of our building-Anatomy of a good cob building
Register for Day 3
Day 4—Monday, Sept 9
9 am Local Stone foundation hands-on, Chinkers/Mortar, Front door sill form removed
12:30 pm Lunch
Foundation hands-on, complete foundation.
Register for Day 4
Day 5—Tuesday, Sept 10th
9 am Hands-On Cob—Footmixes, Demo-Single mix, 2 person mixing
Install front door form, bracing front door out, plumb front door, leveling course of cob
Class—Understanding Cob–Clay analysis–Jar test–Crunch test–Different Cob recipe–Different sands/straws
Hands-On Cob Cob—Footmixes, Demo—Using a builders level, Leveling out cob on the wall, Demo—Trimming, Holes in top of Cob,Putting our wall to sleep
Register for Day 5
Day 6—Wednesday, Sept 11
9 am: Hands-On Using a tractor to make Cob Using Forms, 1st Course of Cob, Window forms in/ braced out/ plumbed up, Bench work
Class—Tractor Cob/ Making the Pad—Figuring Yardage/ percentages —Making Cob Saws
Hands On Afternoon: Tractor Cob/ Forms/ First Course, Footmixing, Trimming
–Defining the rock line/ drinking beer
Register for Day 6
Day 7—Thursday, Sept 12th—BREAK
Day 8—Friday,Sept 13th
9 am Pole prep/ sanding/ staining ridge beam—Each student responsible for at least 1 pole, Finishing defining rock line, Making Cob/ all kinds, Demo—Cement mixer Cob
Class—Materials layout/ understanding your building site–Passive solar Design–Thermal mass/ vs/ insulation–Cob / vs/ Strawbale
Afternoon Hands On: Make lots of Cob for tomorrow
Register for Day 8
Day 9—Sept 14
9 am Hands On: Cob –Second Course
Class-Cob Codes: Title 25 in California, permitting your building
Afternoon Cob—Second course on building, Tractor cob
Evening Trimming cob if necessary
Day 10—Sept 15
Natural Building Tour
9 am meet at Tyler Foote and 49, load in vans. Visit rammed earth, small cob home, earth bag, largest cob home in California, straw bale, home milled timber framed, and combo natural home.Register for Natural Building Tour
Home around 7 pm.
Day 11—September 16
9 am Cob—Third Course Hands On
Class-Sculpting Sacred Space-Garden walls and saunas
Afternoon Hands On: Cob—Third Course
Evening: Cob –Third course if necessary
Register for Day 11
Day 12– Sept 17
9 am Bas relief, Niches, Shelves—wood or stone, Make Cob for tomorrow
Class-—Elements of our roof—-Elements of all roofs–Carpenters toolkit
Afternoon Hands On: Make cob for tomorrow, header prep, prepare all lumber ready to go
Register for Day 12
Day 13—September 18
9 am Cob –Fourth course of cob, Window headers
Class —Earth floors–Wooden floors
Cob –Fourth Course, trimming, build up around door in preparation for door headerRegister for Day 13
Day 14—September 19
Day 15—September 20
9 am Front door header in, ridge beam up, cut ridge to length, ridge beam attached to cob and header, cob in ridge beam
Class—Building design–Modeling–Designing for a small, efficient space
Afternoon: Staining ceiling, initial Rafter layout/ co-planer/ flat spot on top with planer/ proper spacing/pitch, rafter install begins
Register for Day 15
Day 16—September 21—Happy Solstice
9 am Rafter install continues, rafter attachment to cob with rebar X’s, cobbing in rafters
Class—Keeping your finances on track
Afternoon : Rafters and Cob
Evening Cob (if necessary)Register for Day 16
Day 17—September 22
9 am Finish rafters and cob, layout first course of sheathing on interior, cut and install sheathing in 2 teams
Class—Running a workshop vs Doing it yourself vs Hiring a contractor—or all 3!
Afternoon: Install sheathing, cut, install, tape roof insulation
Evening: Install Sheathing Register for Day 17
Day 18—September 23
9 am Install Sheathing in 2 teams, layout rafter cut line, cut rafters to length, sand and stain rafters, layout edge sheathing, continue install of sheathing
Afternoon: Sheathing, and sub-plaster Register for day 18
Day 19–September 24
9 am Tarpaper the roof, install back window, trim out exterior of back window, cut hole in roof for penetration, install roof support kit piece, install penetration Box riser, EPDM on, EPDM cut to penetration Box riser, flashing installed, extra EPDM installed, chimney pipe and cap installed, install interior finish plates, copper drains—do at least 5 near the front door area of building
NO CLASS Register for day 19
Day 20—September 25
Border edge where the drains are
Class—Earthen finishes–Plasters, Kaolin, alis, wall glaze and flour paste–Plasterers toolkit
Afternoon: Border edge up to a good stopping point, border edge trim detail, plaster preparation Register for day 20
Day 21—September 26 LAST DAY
9 am Plaster in the morning
Of course, during all the construction, there will be fine meals, singing under the stars, river trips, music, yoga and hot showers after a day of work the woods. Epic, really!
We’ll finish up with a big celebration on September 25th, with our newly created cob building as a backdrop, as we enjoy our creation, good food, drinks and our new friendships!
About Pricing: This complete shelter class is $2400 for three weeks. Per day is $125, for the Cob Intensive week it is $850.
A non-refundable deposit of $240 is required to save your space in this retreat. Only 15 students will be accepted into this course so that all students will get quality time with Rob and Samantha.
One week courses also include food, camping and yoga and are $850.
About the Food:
We love good food, and we will be eating well! Mikhel Neshat, who cooked for our last California Cob/Mud and Pearls collaboration will be creating healthy, fresh food to nourish and sustain us. Please let us know your food allergies. We will be eating some locally sourced, wildcrafted food. Samantha was inspired by her experience at Eselen and we’ll be eating food that is grown by local farms and families. Locals: we strongly encourage you to eat with us. It will be harder for you to make sure that you eat well since the days will be intensive. Call Samantha if you are a local and want to bring your own food, or eat less meals than scheduled. (530) 362-8082
About the Natural Building Tour:
Visit the largest rammed earth in the Western United States, the largest cob home in California, and a multitude of other natural homes outside of Nevada City.
During this day-long natural building tour we will be traveling the Yuba River area, touring a variety of different properties featuring natural building techniques. Our tour focuses on cob houses and structures, straw bale construction, rammed earth, earthen floor and plaster, super adobe, repurposed wood and much more. The tour will begin at 9 am and locally sourced lunch will be provided. Three vans staffed with knowledgeable builders will guide you to each site; providing opportunity to ask questions. Each site will have the builder there so that technical, aethestic and building details can be answered.
Tour attendees will meet at the juncture of Tyler Foote Road and Highway 49 to hop into vans that will take them to each site. Please bring your own water bottle, snacks, and note pad. Your ticket helps to support the educational outreach of Mud and Pearls and Synergia Learning Ventures.
Topics addressed will be permitting and building codes, benefits of each type of structure, combining elements for creating the “perfect” home, and ease and struggles. Experience the health and beauty of these natural homes during this well staffed tour. Tour admission is included in class cost, if you are wanting just the tour it will be $95. Register for Natural Building Tour
Camping will be on the building site, on a 1700 acre nature reserve. Hot outdoor showers and composting toilets will be provided, hiking trails and access to the Yuba River for swimming are all on site. Hot cooked gourmet meals will be prepared and served in our area. Local natural food store Mother Truckers is only 2 miles away. Students will need to bring their own camping gear (tent, bedding, clothes, flashlights, etc) but will not need to bring food preparation materials. Materials for the class will also be required.
About the Yoga:
Nevada County has a great wealth of yoga teachers, who have studied from Acro Yoga to Ashtanga. We will be joined by these teachers to start our day limber and centered. We feel that starting each day with a healing, fun and healthy practice will make our time even better.
About Rob Pollacek of California Cob:
Rob Pollacek has been building and teaching with cob and other natural materials for the last 14 years. He has built cob and strawbale homes, including the 3000 square foot cob home he built for his family. He also specializes in cob garden walls, cob saunas, living roofs, earthen plasters, earth floors and cob benches, of which he has built more than 25. He has been in the forefront of the tractor cob movement for the last decade, refining a system of tractor cob that produces 5 cubic yards of high quality cob an hour, and a moveable cob form system, which allows for quick cob wall building. He was trained by The Cob Cottage Co., and graduated from their first apprenticeship program in Coquille, Oregon, in 2001. He brings with him a thorough understanding of cob construction, as well as a deep love for this ancient building technique. He is an excellent and approachable teacher, as well as a father of two girls and avid outdoorsman. (530) 913-0846
About Samantha of Mud and Pearls
Samantha produced her first, wildly successful event when she was 14 with a group of girls called the Ridge Kids, and she has been brining events to her community since. A photographer, she has created the Mud and Pearls Girls Calendar – 12 months of inspiring hotties posed but with a great back story. She lives in the straw bale cabin that she built with the love of friends and her father, and is exceedingly proud of the earthen plaster inside and the earth lime plaster on the exterior. She has an unforgettable laugh and loves to watch birds. (530) 362-8082