Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finally - Stacking Bales!!!!

Soffit vents are done and preliminary window framing is installed so FINALLY it's on to stacking bales!
Window framing.

On November 14th, almost one year to the day from setting our first adobe block in place, we placed our first straw bale!  This has been a LONG time coming.  Rick and I first started researching straw bale building close to 15 years ago.  We worked on three straw bale homes in San Diego and have spent a lot of time dreaming about building our straw bale home.  It feels wonderful to FINALLY be stacking OUR bales!

First bale in place!

Bales in the corner of the office.

To attach the bales to the posts we are using expanded lath stapled to the posts and attached to the bale with a landscape pin. This is done every 3rd course or so.

Here's the corner with the trombe wall to the left.

We wanted to be able to hang art and shelves so I came up with the idea of inserting 2 x 6s between courses.  The boards are attached to stakes that have holes drilled in the end.  The ends of the stakes are slipped under the baling twine and then a landscape pin is used to secure the stakes to the bales.

Here's what it looks like installed with another course of bales on top. Plaster will come up to the 2 x 6 at the top and bottom. The board will then be stained - probably using natural dyes.  This will go all around the house and will give us a good solid place from which to hang things.

This is the corner of the office where my desk will be.

This will be my window and will give me a view of the Pedernal.

This is looking north.  I'm standing where Rick's desk will go.  His window is just to the left there.

Splitting Bales

Just like when laying adobes, some bales need to be split.  We got a nifty bale needle to help with that process.  The needle is about 3 feet of steel rod that had a notch and a hole in one end and a wooden handle on the other.
Here's Rick threading baling twine into the bale.

He then pulls the new twine around and ties it on each end.

Once the new strings are tied, the old strings are cut.

You now have two bales of what ever size you require.  

Work to date.

Being at this stage feels a little surreal to me. I really can't believe that we are actually stacking bales in OUR house! We thought the house would start to feel smaller as the walls go up but what we are finding is that what it really feels like is - enclosed. There is still a huge pile of bales in the "studio" but it's gradually getting smaller and the space is starting to feel like a house.

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