A Young Family’s New Cob/Straw Bale Hybrid Home and Masonry Adobe Heater in Romania

Date/Time
Date(s) - Sunday, August 2, 2020 - Sunday, September 13, 2020
9:00 am - 5:30 pm


HOST & LOCATION

This will be CruzinCobGlobal’s first Romanian workshop and this is a special one because my grandparents on my mother’s side were Romanian Jews! Which explains alot, right? At least my three sons understand why we feel “different” than everybody else. The Gypsy Blood must be in that mix somewhere!

Our sweet host family in winter

Our wonderful hosts are a sweet young family that just gave birth to their first son Isarin on August 13th!  Sarai, who has Nigerian, South African and Romanian roots and her Romanian partner Aurel have been dreaming of their future Cob Home for a loooong time.  Here is their story:

After leaving behind everything in their birthplace, Bucharest, Sarai and Aurel embarked on a soul searching journey to India. To be lost and to find the self again. They had no set intentions, neither of staying for a certain period of time nor of necessarily returning home.

This experience would truly be an unpredictable one taking them from central India to the east coast, up to Calcutta and right across to the west coast. But after three months of wandering and meandering, a certain piece of the puzzle kept showing itself in one form or another. That precious piece took on the shape of a small village in the central mountainous region of Romania where Sarai’s grandfather was born. Here, in a valley between the hills surrounded by the Oriental Carpathian mountains, lay a picturesque terrain encompassing a hill of Black Locust Acacia trees, and an apple orchard ending on the banks of a stream shaded by three majestic walnut trees.  This is where we will build their home.

Pietris, the village where we will be

And so in searching far and wide they found themselves on their way back home, a home they had never known.  Aurel and Sarai were just two months away from welcoming their firstborn when they finally found a house to rent in close vicinity of their land where their home will soon come into being.

We invite you to embark on this continuing transformational journey and take part in building this sacred space that Aurel, Sarai and their baby boy Isarin will be calling home.

Our hosts in the building site in the apple orchard

Aurel after dabbling in logistics and carpentry, took up working as a chef and continued till leaving for India. He started off as a raw vegan chef and then went on to fusion cuisine while traveling through Germany and England. He now continues as an experimental chef for his family and will have the pleasure of applying what he has learnt along the years to the cob workshop menu.

Sarai worked as an early childhood teacher in non-formal, experiential education. For this reason we will be offering childcare possibilities with one of Sarai’s colleagues.

Taul Zanelor (Fairy’s Lake), 100 km from Pietris

Scaunul Domnului (Lord’s Seat), 18 km away

Surrounding Pietris is an abundance of hikes and nature walks offering the possibility to visit such places as the National Park of Calimani where, besides the marvelous scenery of the largest volcanic complex of the Carpathian Mountains, one can see caves formed by volcanic eruptions 5 million years ago, Tihu Waterfall, the unique rock formation of The 12 Apostles, the lake Iezer, Scaunul Domnului (Lord’s Seat) and the highest peak Pietrosul Peak of 2100 m.

For a more relaxing option, just one hour away by car you can visit the Turda Salt Mines. Here, after a week or more of joyous cobbing, you can relax at the wellness and spa center that has various treatments on offer for very low prices.

Two medieval cities about two and a half hours away by car are Sibiu, that was declared the cultural city of Europe in 2007 and Cluj Napoca, the capital of the Ardeal Region, an important cultural, economic and universitary center of Romania.

In the months of August and September temperatures vary from a maximum of 30 degrees celsius to a minimum of 24 degrees celsius in the evenings. Days are mostly sunny, rainfall occurring very rarely. Evenings mosquitos are encountered so repellent can help.

 

PROJECT

Feet by Ozzie student Clare

Rewarding work

We will be building Sarai, Aurel and Isarin’s 25m2 home.  While this size is about double or a little less than what we normally build in our 5-week workshops, we have decided to adjust some elements to be able to complete the building in 6 weeks.  The workshop will be considered an Intermediate Cob Building Workshop because the foundation will be built ahead of time, which will save us 2 weeks!  When students arrive the foundation will be completed and ready for cob. Many students prefer this as the foundation is alot of heavy work and can be built by professionals as well.  Students, as always, will still learn about Foundation in the lecture but not build it.  Since the foundation of a cob building is not special to cob, you can have anyone build a foundation who knows how, but what IS special is how the connecting surface is finished, which we will explain and you will see before we add the Cob.  The workshop thus will focus on Cob and Straw Bale walls (50/50), and students will get to learn both systems in what we call a Hybrid System and how they connect, plus floor, plaster and Reciprocal Frame Green roof.  We will also build a Sara Adobe Masonry Heater during one of the weeks.  This usually takes one day because the adobe blocks are prepared ahead of time.  If students would like to complete their Advanced Certification they can always take only the foundation week in another 28 or 35-day CCG workshop.

Cobbers on a hot reciprocal roof

In Weeks 1 & 2 we will build the Roof and first Floor Section (gravel, insulation and cob with radiant floor heating tubing for those cold Romanian nights).  Building the roof first allows us to build the cob wall all the way to the roof uninterrupted and provides a structure for sun and rain protection if needed.  In Week 3 we will build the straw bale half of the wall on the north side for more insulation needs and once that is out of the way students can go barefoot in the mud for the real fun and hard work of building and connecting the cob wall in Weesk  4 & 5, which includes sculpting and the Sara Heater.  Not until Week 6 will we finally really slow down for the calming and meditative week of Plaster and Second Floor Coat on the last day. 

Students will learn ALOT by building every day with continuous instruction both practical hands-on and theoretical using lecture time, slides and videos.  You will leave fully confident to build your own cob house or someone else’s, which is your next step after graduating from our training!  This will take you to the next level of understanding and experience after which you can be a competent cob workshop assistant and builder. Hallelujah and off to the Hot Springs!!!

For people who still want more….this workshop will be followed by a Cob Oven & Benches Workshop for another week of easier-going building and lots of creativity!  Students who want to do both will receive a $50 discount on this workshop.

 

INTERMEDIATE COB BUILDING WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION

The 42-day Intermediate Cob Building Workshop consists of 30 days of theoretical instruction
(lectures with graphics) and construction for 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon.
Students arrive on Sunday, August 2nd, and settle in. The workshop begins at 4pm with an Opening Circle, a Host Site orientation and Introduction to the Project.  Dinner is served at 6pm and followed by an Introduction to the 6-week Workshop by Instructor. & Assistant  Monday morning we begin digging the trench for our Cob Building!!!!

Someone’s happy….

Following Breakfast, the morning session lasts 4 hours with a 20-minute snack pause. Lunch break lasts 1.5 hours which includes rest time before the 3-hour afternoon session begins. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there is a 60-minute lecture, followed by construction. Tuesdays and Thursdays we start building right after the rest time.  After class in the afternoon there is a 90-minute break before dinner, in which students are encouraged to stretch, do yoga, relax. There is often someone officially or informally leading yoga or some other movement practice in the morning and/or afternoon.  There will also be 3-4 evenings (once a week) after dinner for showing slides, videos and having Course-related discussions.  Other evenings are free and sometimes other students offer informal courses in their specialties and passions.

The 42-day Course will offer practical learning by building a complete 22-25m2 (depending on number of students) curvilinear building from top of foundation to roof, as described in the “Project” section above.  Those who complete the 42-day Workshop will receive an Intermediate Cobber Certificate of Completion for Cob Walls (which includes Door, Windows, Shelves, Niches, Art, Electrical & Plumbing), Floor, Plaster & Roof.

 

SCHEDULE

The Intermediate Cob Building Workshop begins on Sunday, August 2nd 2020 at 4pm with the Opening Circle and Introduction to Site & Project, the Welcome Dinner and Introduction to the Course.  It ends on Sunday, September 13th, 2020 after the Closing Circle & Lunch.

Students can arrive a day or two before to acclimate and settle in but will need to
cover their own food needs or work out a trade with hosts.

The daily schedule (subject to slight modifications due to climate) will be:

6:30-7:30 Yoga/Chi Gong/Meditation                                                                                7:30-8:30 Breakfast
8:45-1:00 Class
1:00-2:30 Lunch
2:30-5:30 Class
5:30-7:00 Rest/Yoga
7:00-8:00 Dinner
8:00-9:00 Slides/Videos/Discussion (once a week)

 

COURSE CONTENTS

Students will learn every phase of building a cob building from top of foundation through the roof in
lectures/theory. In addition to the lectures, slideshows and videos will be shown to support and
enhance their understanding of cob materials, cob building, design, geography , budgeting,
business options and legal issues.

Our hands-on practice will include:

analyzing soils and materials
making test bricks
deciding on correct mixture
deciding on best location
making cob w/ partner and solo
building with cob
preparing and inserting the door
preparing and inserting fixed and opening windows
preparing and inserting shelves
inserting bottle windows and other objects
inserting electrical wiring and plumbing in walls
sculpting
preparing and applying earthen plasters (2 coats)
pouring an earthen floor (2 layers) with radiant heating tubing
preparing walls for roof connection
building roof frame
building roof covering
making small-scale cob designs of future projects, time permitting

In addition to Cob Building practices, the Course material also includes:

legal cob construction practices
cost analysis
creating a cob business (building/teaching)
assisting, interning and teaching with CruzinCobGlobal

 

REQUIREMENTS & IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Students will need to come prepared for physical labor from Day 1.

This includes:

Work clothes appropriate for the country and climate we are in
Work boots or other closed-toe shoes
Flip-flops for cobbing days
Rubber dishwashing gloves (for lime mortar)
Work Gloves
Tape Measure
Box Cutter
Carving Knife
Wood Hand Saw (cheap), Level (2ft), Hammer (if possible)
Ear Plugs (roof week)
4”-6” Diameter Round Plastic Container Lids (plastering)
Good Moisturizer
Hat
Sunglasses
Safety Glasses
Water Bottle
Notebook/Pen/Camera
Sample of Your Soil (Optional)

instant cob family, bonded by the cob!

These workshops are designed for people that want to learn how to build a complete structure from start to finish in a professional manner and amount of time. They are very intensive and, while we make time for yoga, stretching, dancing, music, relaxing….all students are expected to be present and participating in all building/learning hours unless ill or have some other significant reason. This is
because we design the size of the building and organize the structure of the workshop in accordance with the number of students and when people are absent it impacts the whole group and the other students have to work harder. In addition Instructors try to set up building work according to students’ preferences and learning needs.

Yeh Cha….gettin’ the poor teacher back huh?

Dedicated cobber scrapin’ the last clay out!

That being said, the workshop intensity also changes from week 1 to week 6. The first two roof weeks break people in with the work of carpentry skills, power tools, hammering, screwing, and adjusting as we get the reciprocal roof rafters up on the bond beam supported by posts set in the foundation.  People will get very good at measuring and cutting alot of sheathing to fill in the triangles and experts at eyeballing the cuts!  The floor days are a change of pace with shoveling, moving and pouring endless wheelbarrows of heavy gravel, followed by lighter insulation and then again endless heavy cob mixes made and poured and levelled.  Very satisfying work and thankfully can be very fun as a group with loud funk music to fuel the fire. In the third week, a first for CCG, we are now lifting and moving bales, about 50, into place, and wrapping them with chicken wire for plastering as we

fresh-baked cobs lookin’ pretty perfect!

ll as inserting wooden dowel pins for connecting to the cob wall!  This should go quickly and cleanly and should be enjoyable to see the walls go up fast!  The fourth and fifth weeks of cob making and building are similar to the rock foundation week in physical demand but are way more flowing and active in movement and cardiovascular exercise and with good music and good friends (after a month) is a blast, especially when the rhythm slows down and the body can rest as students tap into their creative source and design and sculpt the walls and around niches, shelves, windows, etc.  Plastering follows sculpting and is also an enjoyable lightweight physical experience that lends itself to talking and sharing at the wall in a meditative rhythm as the students have bonded and shared deeply through a variety of experiences for a month. In the final stretch there is always a boost of energy to wrap up the build by mixing and pouring the second floor coat, the grand finale on the last day.

For students wanting a more mellow slow-paced cob experience along with time for personal
exploration and experimentation, these workshops are not for you. However you can find a more
suitable workshop online that is usually for a shorter period building a garden wall, a bench, a
compost toilet or some other small-scale project.

Students are required to read “The Hand-Sculpted House” by Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley before the workshop begins and any other book they find, as well as watching videos on YouTube, especially the ones posted on CruzinCobGlobal’s website under Gallery to get an idea of what is expected. Please bring your book(s).

always helping hands to finish up the day!

Students must tend to their own personal needs, drink alot of water, rest when needed and exert themselves at a steady pace. Students who cannot do the strenuous physical work should let us know before the workshop begins so we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and then help the building part in less physically demanding ways, ie cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is alot to do besides making and building with cob!!Finally, please bring a watch or use your phone to be prompt and ready for each part of the Course including meals. Feel free to share your dietary needs (not preferences) with CCG or the Host and bring your special snacks and foods, pillow and whatever you NEED to be comfortable and happy. Feel free to also bring slides, videos, movies and books to share, as well as a sample of your soil to test. And favorite music playlists please!!!

TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS

Pietris is easily reached by train directly from Bucharest, the international airport you will need to fly into if you are coming by air.  The train station Deda is only 3 km away from the building site. The ticket costs 17 euro. From the train station you can either get picked up by Sarai and Aurel or jump on a minibus for about 50 euro cents and you will have arrived!

 

MEALS, ACCOMMODATIONS & WHAT ELSE TO BRING

Marla is the chocolate mousse queen every time!

Students will be fed 3 high-quality prepared delicious meals a day during the weekdays.  CruzinCobGlobal hosts always serve amazing food to cob students in gratitude for their hard work! Since this is Romania there will be fresh and amazing vegetarian food, which will be the basis of our menu.  Students that have non-vegetarian requirements can bring personal items to complete their diet and other requirements can be presented to the cooks a month before the start date so they can make sure to have what is needed.  We will try to meet people’s requirements of course so it is important to communicate them as soon as possible. Meat or fish  may be served once a week depending on students’ interest and availability. On weekends,

Judith’s colorful snacktime always happily received in Portugal!

students onsite will be provided with food to make breakfast/brunch and can explore and enjoy the region’s offerings for the other meals!!!

Students will be camping onsite with simple and rustic facilities like compost toilets, hot and cold outdoor showers, an outdoor kitchen & dining area, a yoga/dance space and a cozy hangout communal area with fire circle.   There are many cafés nearby for wifi use and with a SIM card students can have service onsite.

REGISTRATION & PAYMENT

The fee for the 6-week Intermediate Cobber Certificate Course which includes tuition, camping and meals is:

Very Early Bird Rate: 2400€ (paid in full) by March 2nd, 2020

Early Bird Rate: 2500€ (paid in full) by May 2nd, 2020

Full Rate: 2600€, paid by July 2nd, 2020

***This workshop will be followed by a 7-day Cob Oven & Benches Workshop from September 13-20 on the same site.  Students wishing to stay on for the next workshop will get a 10% discount on tuition! You can register for it at the same time…8-student limit***

For European residents and others, payment can be made by bank transfer in Euros or you can use Transferwise or Paypal.  For US residents you can also use Zelle or Venmo. To hold your spot  in this workshop you will need to pay the full amount or a 50% deposit that will be non-refundable after June 2nd, 2020.  The balance will be due by July 2nd, one month before the workshop start date. Please contact claudine@cruzincobglobal.org for registration forms payment and questions.

We always offer four work trade discounts, 2 in the kitchen making breakfast in the morning and 2 helping prepare the site in the morning before breakfast. Each work trade is for 1.5 hours per day for 10€off per day or 300€ off either the food cost or the tuition cost.  Work traders need to pay a non-refundable 50% deposit at the time of their registration to guarantee their spot. To apply for these work trade positions please contact claudine@cruzincobglobal.org  as soon as possible because these are the first spots to go.

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO DANCING WITH YOU IN THE MUD!!!!

Hey Baby…right here!

Enjoy beautiful Romania in this Gallery put together by Sarai!

 

 

Location: Sarah and Aurel's Home

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