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Mud Girls Natural Building Cob Workshop

by Going Slowly

For the last five days we've been camping in the woods on a piece of land near the coast of Salt Spring Island, attending a workshop put on by the Mud Girls Natural Building Collective. The week ran a mere $185 dollars per person, and included three vegetarian meals and a tasty snack every day. For those attending with children, there was even quality childcare at no additional cost!

Molly & River

Each morning, we convened for outdoor classes on various aspects of natural building, followed by hands-on instruction in working with cob. In exchange for our education, we gave our labor, helping finish a two-story, 300 round foot, post-and-beam structure. Among many other things, we learned how to mix and build with cob, make and apply clay plasters, and lay an earthen floor.

Cob Cottage

It was truly an honor to participate first-hand in building a home with such strong and capable women. What a life-changing and soul-affirming experience this has been! The Mud Girls are running so much more than workshops—they are part of a revolution, a movement for change. Their important work is illuminating what we feel is a much needed path, one leading towards a more sensible and healthy world.

Mud Girls Cobbing Workshop

We as humans need so little to survive—it is nigh onto a crime that the act of creating shelter, the most basic of necessities, has become a skill so few people in our society possess. It is such a liberating thing, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are capable of building our own home. And what a revelation it has been, to witness the reality that we can do it affordably, often with the dirt directly beneath our feet!

Erik's Straw-Covered Hands

"I'm so glad we came here, I'm so glad we came here, I'm so glad we came here," was our resounding refrain at the end of every day. We echo our fellow participant, Jaylene, who said with teary eyes on the last morning of the workshop, "This is so right, this is how humans are supposed to live."

Tyler's Muddy Foot

As we worked together this week, sharing the magic of mud, we were creating so much more than a cob home. We were creating a community! Now that the experience is over, it's practically heart-wrenching to leave it all behind. For us, modern society as we know it has little to offer that can rival this simple way of being. We long return to the woods, to create a sanctuary that will stand the test of time, and to live our lives in a way that feels right.

Sheera, Molly, and Mud Girls Workshop Participants at Bonfire

But back into the world we'll go, working like mad to make our dreams a reality. Soon enough, we will be building a home with our own two hands, using straw bales, maple trees, and cob. For now, we'd like to say to Molly, Sheera, Mélisande, Chelsea, Rose, and our amazing fellow participants, thank you!

Tara Plastering Tyler Carrying Slip Straw (Light Clay Straw)

We've compiled a video of our time with the Mud Girls below. If you click , the movie will play in full screen. Clicking will vastly increase the picture quality, but you'll have to leave our site to see it (click the blue link below the huge HD that appears after). Also, it might take quite a bit longer to load on slow connections. The music is "My Own Two Hands" by Ben Harper.

What a revelation it has been, to witness the reality that we can do it affordably, often with the dirt directly beneath our feet!

For more earthen building workshops in the BC area check out the Mud Girls blog.



I WANT TO GO and BUILD a house and community!!! Love those Mud Girls! So glad you two went to this workshop and shared your experience with us. It's so important what you're doing. Can't wait to see what you two build with your own two hands.

P.S. Great video. :-)
Posted by Sheila Poettgen on May 28th, 2012 at 3:36 PM
Haha, you already built a tiny house, silly! But I can understand the desire to build with earthen materials and a group of awesome people. Maybe we can enlist your help in a few years to build ours...?

Glad you like the slideshow!

*Thank you-- you're doing important work, too!*
Posted by Tara on June 1st, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Would LOVE to help build (if we're there)!! I'm actually hoping to find a workshop somewhere on our route for us to visit. I really want to learn more about building with natural materials. It makes so much sense.

Be Well!
Posted by Sheila Poettgen on June 1st, 2012 at 1:17 PM
Can't *wait* to read your journals when you start building. There's something about creating with your own two hands - then living in that creation must be amazing.
I recently moved to the American Southwest and am determined to build an adobe home at some point in the next few years, so can now count your blog in both the "reading for pleasure" and "research" categories :)
Posted by Jennifer on June 5th, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Beautiful people, great project! The Mud Girls are amazing! Thanks for sharing.
Posted by Eva Edleson on June 5th, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Hi first time poster long time reader ;) I love your blog I've read it all the way through probably 8 time by now. I commenting because yesterday I was riding up and down lots of hills with a headwind in Ireland and I was thinking of you guys as I slowly truged up and up (in granny gears :) and this is the first time I didn't have to get off and walk and I wanted to say thanks for having such a great blog and for mentally helping me climb hills :)
Posted by chelsea forte on June 13th, 2012 at 7:44 AM
Great post guys, how did you make the photo-video. Anyway looks like u had fun in the forest, love following ur adventures. thanks
Posted by Rob Lutter on June 17th, 2012 at 9:02 AM