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GSBN: Digest for 6/13/07

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-> Fwd: Re: GSBN: RE: dipped Bale Walls
     by Mark Piepkorn mark@...


Date: 13 Jun 2007 19:30:17 -0500
From: Mark Piepkorn mark@...
Subject: Fwd: Re: GSBN: RE: dipped Bale Walls

Forwarded message:

- - - - - -

>From: Sarah Machtey mudhome@...
>Hi Andy,
>At 12:27 PM 5/24/2007, Andy Horn wrote:
>>In such regard, I would be interested to know if any of you have tried the
>>pre-dipping method with load bearing systems???
>I recently tried it. Since we were not using normal bales, I'm not
>sure my experiences are really relevant to anyone on this list
>(except Darcey, who was there, and Martin, who's probably heard
>about it from Darcey) but here goes...
>I was in Pakistan with Darcey Donovan, where the only bales you can
>buy are made with chopped straw. So the building bales are made by
>hand, using imported farm jacks and steel compression molds that
>Darcey designed and had fabricated there. The technique involves
>making loose balls of straw and stuffing them in. One very minor
>problem we had was that smaller balls made better bales, but all of
>the Pakistanis involved are always male and it is difficult to
>convince men that smaller balls are better. (Ok, you didn't need to
>know that detail, but given the recent posts I just couldn't help
>throwing it in.) Anyway, the bales are only about 1ftx 1ft x 2ft so
>the added weight of dipping isn't the issue that it is with bales in
>any of the standard sizes.
>I suggested dipping because it had always seemed like a good idea to
>me, though somehow I'd never gotten to try it. I also suggested that
>we try Tom Rijven's method of holding a large (maybe 2ft x 2ft or
>more?) slightly flexible flat thing against the wall and hitting
>with a mallet, which I'd seen him demonstrate at the conference in
>Canada. At the time, I'd thought that I would usually want to modify
>the technique by using hands, yogurt lids, or pool trowels to smoosh
>things down, since his results are flatter than I and most Americans
>I've worked with generally prefer. But we thought flat would be good
>for a demonstration house in Pakistan (though I was pleasantly
>surprised by some of the houses that the homeowner pointed out as
>beautiful when he was looking through pictures in my computer -
>organic handmade-looking interiors, etc.) We gave the flattening a
>shot with various broken bits of furniture/house (from the
>earthquake that precipitated the introduction of strawbale into
>Pakistan) but none of them seemed to work very well. The main
>problem seemed to be that the edges are not like on normal bales.
>Another slight factor was the limit on how much you could hit them
>without knocking them out of alignment. They had less size and
>weight to keep them in place, no posts to be wedged between, and
>certainly nothing like Tom's unique system of replacing the strings
>with a wooden matrix that holds everything in place very tightly. To
>get the clay to hold the straw flat seemed to require it to be
>extremely thick - thick enough that I was concerned about expansion
>and contraction causing trouble as moisture came and went. Perhaps
>my fear was unjustified, especially considering that the locals
>choose only pure clay soil (if it's available and they are using
>soil) for their mortar in stone walls and other building purposes
>and never add sand, but... I thought about adding sand, but didn't
>suggest it because the sand had to be purchased, and I had never
>heard of anyone using anything other than just clay before. So I was
>very pleased to read that your "slip" actually contains sand.
>We gave up on the flattening board and started smoothing the straw
>down by hand as part of the dipping process and/or on the wall, and
>things seemed to go fine. Later, after the slip had all dried, there
>was an awful lot of whacking at the walls to push the house into
>shape - much more than I've experienced before - and the clay would
>come raining down in a nice fine powder, perfect for breathing in
>and ruining your lungs. Your technique of pre-stacking would prevent
>this problem and sounds like it would produce the best quality
>walls, but also sounds like it takes a lot of time and care and space.
>After I left Pakistan, they started on another house. On that one
>they did not dip because they had not found clay in time, and I
>heard recently that they had just slipped the walls and had found it
>much faster and easier than dipping.
>Personally, I still like the idea of dipping.
>I'll end with some random comments on language, which you should
>feel free to skip:
>When we began mixing the slip, I told our students "custard" because
>we had been served custard and told that the Urdu word for it was
>"custard". Sometimes I wanted to say "pudding" but I refrained
>because I had seen a heading of "puddings" on a restaurant menu,
>under which there were various desserts listed, such as apple pie,
>seeming to indicate the meaning was different. You can imagine
>trying to dip bales in something the consistency of apple pie :-)
>In Urdu, there is no direct translation for the word "straw". Wheat
>straw (which is what those chopped bales are) and rice straw (which
>we used for our bales) have different names. I will refrain from
>getting into the problems of Spanish having only one word for straw,
>with too many meanings, because this list has become lewd enough.
>Thanks, GSBN folks, for all the info on your various dipping methods,
>Sarah Machtey
>At 12:27 PM 5/24/2007, Andy Horn wrote:
>>Hi all
>>Just to add my support of the dipping method...


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