2009-12-26

The Canelo Project

December 15-22 visited Bill Steen and Athena Swentzell Steen of The Canelo Project near Tucson, AZ. The Canelo Project is a non-profit "dedicated to the exploration and development of living systems, including growing food and building that creates friendship, beauty and simplicity." There are many strawbale and other natural building techniques on display at the Canelo Project.
Wrap-around porch: Very applicable to Japan.
Thatch on gable ends to protect straw bale walls and earthen plasters. Empty bottles create windows.Low cost window flashing.Concrete window sill and protective flashing above windowSplit bamboo used to create arch.
Garden wall with roof to prevent erosion
I was traveling with Keisuke NODA of Noda Plaster Works and 自然の家職づくり人ネット. As mentioned in previous posts, I first worked with Noda-san this past spring renovating Bethel House's Cafe in Urakawa, Hokkaido with straw bales and earthen plasters. Tom and Satomi of LanderLand were also at the Canelo Project for the week, making for a lively exchange of natural building ideas and techniques. Bill and Athena's sons Benito and Kalin also participated.
Bill, Athena, Tom, and Satomi have long had an interest in Japanese plastering. Bill and Athena have met Akira Kusumi and Tom and Satomi sell Japanese Trowels. Shuhei HASADO has visited The Canelo Project on two occasions.
During the week, Noda-san taught traditional and modern Japanese plastering techniques. Practice panels were built for earthen plaster and everyone had a panel for practice. Noda-san also taught an Italian polished lime plaster technique (カルチェ ラサーター), brought to Japan by Akira Kusumi I believe. We all made samples of the polished lime plaster. Noda-san's reflectionNoda-san also demonstrated a polished lime plaster involving wax, a technique developed by Noda-san's mentor, Naoki Akira, I believe. Noda-san demonstrated how he builds corners using a jig. And lastly, Noda-san demonstrated the stucco scratched finish he often uses.
Bill, Athena, Tom and Satomi shared with us their straw bale methods, and a practice wall with foundation and top plate was built. Corner and window details were also covered. The use of threaded rebar to compress the bales and level the top plate makes for an incredibly strong wall. Bill demonstrating old world plastering techniques.
Athena also explained how she carves earthen plasters.Athena comes from a family of artists. Her sister, Roxanne Swentzell, is an accomplished sculptor.
Benito demoed his blacksmith skills.
We all helped paint a memorial with waterglass and purple pigment.
We also toured some straw bale and old and new adobe homes in the area. The walls of Philip's home consist of two adobe walls with a layer of insulation in between. We also visited the San Xavier Mission, built of stone and adobe.
Lastly, the food was great. Above, Bill and Athena baking pizzas in their earthen oven.
Altogether, it was a fantastic week!
Group shot taken by Bill.
Back row (from left to right): Satomi, Athena, Kyle, Noda, Tom
Front row: Kalin

1 comment:

b.m.t. said...

very cool. i just read bill's post about your visit on his blog, as well. what an amazing trip and experience you two had!!