2013 Complete Cob Natural Building Retreat
Experience the beauty and wealth of the Sierra Nevada Foothills, which are blessed with warm summers with cool nights, the incredible Yuba River, an abundance of natural building and the perfect red clay for building with Cob. California Cob and Mud and Pearls team up again to create a hand-built building from locally-sourced materials.
This 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.
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:
We will begin our “Start to Finish” Sacred Space Cob workshop on Friday evening, September 6th, with dinner, cake and introductions, getting to know each other, as we embark together on an epic journey in natural building, community and self empowerment.
The next morning, we will begin with work on the stone and mortar foundation, finding and laying the native stone, creating the solid base for the cob cottage that we will be creating. The foundation portion will take a few days, chinking and mortaring the stones together, understanding how stones come together to create a solid unit. We’ll finish the foundation phase by creating a concrete door threshold. We’ll then make and install the rough door frame.
Once the foundation is done, we’ll get into the heart of the workshop; Making cob.
We’ll cover traditional workshop style footmixing, cement mixer mixing, and finally, tractor cob mixing, the most efficient and accurate method of cob mixing. Rob will show you how to make 5 cubic yards of cob an hour, a practice he’s perfected over the last 12 years, making approximately 300 five yard batches on 10 different different projects!
Once we have some cob, we’ll start building the walls. We’ll cover hand cobbing and a moveable form system that Rob created 11 years ago, and has been using ever since. It allows for very quick building of the cob walls, and in conjunction with tractor cob, creates a system where a cob building can easily be created in a matter of weeks.
As the wall building progresses, we’ll be cobbing in the door frames, window frames, carving out niches, creating bas relief, using a cob saw to trim the cob and highlight the stunning connection between the stone foundation and the cob walls. We’ll be building the cob walls in traditional 2 foot lifts. Between the first lift and the second, we’ll have a break, allowing the cob to set up and allowing us to renew for a moment, enjoy the Yuba river, rest for a day and prepare for the second course of cob.
Once we return and have finished the wall building process, we’ll install door and window headers, a curved ridge beam, and begin the process of roof building. The old english saying goes “ Give a cob building a good pair of boots and a good hat and she’ll last for a thousand years” Well, the foundation is the pair of boots, and now comes the hat. We’ll spend a week creating a beautiful round pole earthen roof with a 2 x 6 tongue and groove ceiling. We’ll cover all aspects of building an earthen roof, from rafters and sheathing through liners, border edges and drains.
We’ll also cover all aspects of earthen plaster, making and applying our own earthen plaster from scratch with local clay.
Along the way, we’ll have class time, learning from Rob the finer points of proper drainage and building siting, passive solar design, clay analysis and cob recipes from different clays, different roofing systems that can be used for a cob building, installing doors and windows, trimming out openings on a cob building and strawbale construction and how it can go hand in hand with cob.
We’ll also have a natural building tour, visiting many local natural buildings made of cob, rammed earth and strawbale, including the 3000 square foot cob home that Rob finished in 2007. We’ll also visit his cob garden walls and saunas.
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.
If you register by June 6th, you may take 20% off, and only pay $1920. If you register by July 6th, you may take 10% off, and only pay $2160. If you are a couple, we will give you a total of 25% off if you pay by June 6th: that is a savings of $1,200! (Total of $3,600 for both). 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.
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:
We will be touring local structures made of cob, rammed earth, straw bale, hybrid systems, and locally milled wood. Nevada County has a high number of alternative buildings and builders. This photo is of a rammed earth dome that we will visit. The tour will be guided by Samantha Hinrichs and Tom Weistar of Synergia. More details to come.
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