[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: GSBN:Reflections on Summer Plastering - A short tale

Dear Bill,

first of all, thank you very much for sharing the story, and the very very
beautiful photos on your homepage. Thank you.

second, if you one day find time, then: when Jo and Asger and I get back to
Denmark, which we will in a month's time, then we'll be looking after Asger,
earning a bit of money, and continuing the building of our house. A big part
of the remaining tasks is final finishes. When I look at the photos then I
wish I had tried what Athena is doing on the photo with the text: "Athena
carves decoration into edges of lime plaster." Can you explain how it is
done, or where I can read about it.

Love, Lars.

2006/8/29, Athena & Bill Steen absteen@...:

I'm not sure if this is list material, but hey, it has to do with
plastering and since SB buildings take a whole lot of plaster I
thought I would share my experience working on Athena's sister's new
gallery in New Mexico. The building was a four story adobe tower,
granted it wasn't straw bale, but since the walls were so uneven the
differences were minor.

There's been a lot of discussion about the about the advantages/
disadvantages of applying plaster to SB walls either by hand or
mechanically.  I don't have an opinion either way as to one being
better than the other, I think that each set of circumstances brings
it's own solution depending upon timing, labor force, resources, etc.

In my/our case, being northern New Mexico, Athena's sister still
living in Santa Clara Pueblo, lots of teenage kids available and
mostly because we don't know any better or haven't ever done it
differently - we mixed and applied all the plaster to the interior of
this building by hand.  Simply said, it's the way we love doing it.
I guess the reason that I am sharing this here is that the whole
event took on a character so different from the way things are
increasingly done in the age we live.  I suspect that what we did
wasn't much different than the way things were done a hundred years
ago in Northern New Mexico except that the trowels were of better
quality.  Anyhow, if it catches your interest, I put this out as a
contrasting experience.

Our job during the months of June and July was for Athena and I to
lead the plastering effort and in the process coordinate a group of
all ages to get the building plastering in time for a gallery opening
the middle of August.  The ages of our crew ranged from 6 to 75 with
a bunch of teenagers/early 20s types clustered in the middle.  They
ranged from moderate plastering skill levels to none at all.  One of
the great things about the mix of people was that it included
Athena's extended family from the Pueblo, our three boys, college age
interns and talented young girl from Mexico. You could sort of call
it North American cultural mix of sorts.

One major task was to develop a mix and method of application that
all could easily apply, wouldn't crack and give the gallery a unique
and beautiful feel that was consistent with what Athena's sister
Roxanne wanted and that was very northern New Mexican. Actually it
would work anywhere, but it fit the place.  What we tried to do was
create walls that would make her sister's work stand out, make the
place feel incredible and yet almost not be noticed. I think we were

All the plasters were mixed on site from a combination of local clays
with the exception of a lime plastered panel to be used for viewing
slideshows and movies.  I will say that if you haven't watched a
movie on a curved lime plastered wall then add it to your list of
things to do/make. There wasn't anything extra special about the
mixes, basically a blend of local clays, a little sand and chopped
straw.  The important thing is that they were easy for all to handle,
made a hard surface and didn't crack or dust. And I guess that I
should add that the plasters were developed from two truck loads of
clay soil and therefore we avoided having to pay some ridiculously
expensive price for commercial clay plaster.

It was a monumental effort, the plaster was mixed by hand in plastic
mixing tubs, the stairs hadn't been built so the plaster was moved to
different rooms via pulleys, ladders and stairs in the end. The
teenagers came in handy at this point. Tiny children played in the
sand piles, those who didn't want or know how to plaster, mixed.  The
hours were long and hard, but clearly a good option when it comes to
other forms of exercise.

The cost?  Plastering isn't cheap, but even paying generous wages to
the young kids, we came out slightly under the bid from a local
plastering contractor and now that I look back at what the project
took, he would have lost a bunch of money.

I guess that's enough said except that it was one of those special
experiences that one never forgets and makes life a whole bunch
richer.  Like all hard undertakings, there were difficult moments,
but I guess that's part of the richness of it all.

If you would like to see images of this process you can check into
our website at:
<a  target="_blank" href="http://www.caneloproject.com/pages/currrent%20projects/tower%";>http://www.caneloproject.com/pages/currrent%20projects/tower%</a>

Roxanne Swentzell, Athena Steen's sister, is internationally known
for her clay sculptures and limited bronze editions.  Her work is
extensively exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The
gallery is a four story adobe tower built in the early 1990s, never
finished and sat vacant til now.  Roxanne and her husband Tim Star
took on the task of finishing the tower and converting it into her
gallery. It is located at the Poeh Center of Pojoaque Pueblo, New
Mexico (eight miles north of Santa Fe) on the Taos/Espanola highway.

Athena &amp; Bill Steen
The Canelo Project
HC1 Box 324
Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611

Jo, Asger og jeg er pt I Australien. Vi er i Danmark igen midt november.
Juli, august og september kan vi kun traeffes paa nedenstaaende mobilnummer,
samt modtage post via nedenstaaende adresse.

Jo, Asger and I are in Australia until mid November this year. July, August
September our contacts are:


Lars, Jo og Asger
5 Crouch Street North
Mount Gambier
5290 SA

Mobiltlf: 0061 405 366 455

--- StripMime Report -- processed MIME parts ---
 text/plain (text body -- kept)