I had a feeling this workshop would be the one that would reach my personal goal of truly completing the whole building right to the roof covering. It is the third month-long cob workshop I have led and for factors that I managed to control this time, the previous two did not attain the roof completion. I am learning to stay strict about building size relative to number of students and strict about the schedule. I think I am also learning to support the students mentally and physically in maximizing their potential.. I still realize that whatever number I declare to be the daily individual goal for cob batches, people rarely attain that consistently. The lesson this time was that as I lowered the daily goal to 3, the lowest yet, people lowered their output. If I had declared it to be 6 batches, everyone would easily be making 3 batches a day. At 3, there were many 1 batch days for a number of students. My intention in the cob workshops I teach is to have students experience the intensity of effort it takes to complete a cob building in a reasonable time frame. Most cob projects I have heard about take an excessively long time to complete because it’s hard work and not systematized or consistent. On the job sites I have had, the only way we can advance effectively is to have systems of concentrated production, multi-tasking with trimming, and of course having all the inserted materials prepped and ready when needed. Same for the workshops. When talking with other teachers or students who have taken other workshops, what I hear is that a full building is never completed. I know that students really want this experience and when they accomplish benchmarks like finishing the wall, there is such an ecstatic bliss that sets in, along with fulfillment, pride and confidence, that I know I am doing the right thing.

The Texas workshop students had a phenomenal synergy. There was the youthful crew that worked hard and played hard, every night, and weekends…and then the others that paced their energy with early bedtime and restful weekends. Nonetheless the closeness and joy of the whole group grew quickly from Day 1 until the difficult goodbyes one month later. The deep bond that was formed in the creation of this beautiful sculpted cob studio is irreparable and eternal. Each student has gained the knowledge and ability to do the same when they return home or wherever they are. For this reason, the Complete Cob Workshops will become CruzinCobGlobal’s standard offering 4 times a year, all over the world. It is this type of workshop that will produce confident and able Cobbers, ready to be assistant teachers and ready to build cob projects.

Congratulations to the new class of Advanced Cobber graduates! Well done!


The Cabo Verdean Culture of Rock n’ Cob Houses Opens the Door to Something New…

As I make my way into new countries and cultures, especially non-industrialized, non-Western (all these labels are kinda janky, as my kids say) lands I am always excited to discover how my introduction of Cob will be received. In Senegal, traditionally a mud house-building people, especially in the Southern Casamance region, IMG_7397our techniques were still of interest. There they don’t use straw in their mix and often use termite mound mix which barely has any clay in it and washes away with water. Some areas do have really good yellowish clay soils that may be akin to the red ready-mix of the Sierra Foothills. They mainly use block-making building style with forms. They certainy don’t take time to test as we have been taught and teach others. But heck, if it’s still standing after the rainy season then it’s a good mix.

Here in Cabo Verde the tradition is rock with cob originally and now cement mortar. You only see them in the rural areas. It seems cob is faster and easier and cheaper though. It took the “pedreiros” or “stoners” (heehee) 4 days to build a 12m2 foundation! Rocks are heavy and unless they’re right where you want to build, the transport is costly and demanding.

The first day we started the wall the masons were still there and curious to see what we were up to in the workshop. Within minutes of starting the first mix, they were piqued. They watched intently as I demonstrated the pisé cob dance and came in

Nuno's First Cob Mix Ecstasy Dance

Nuno’s First Cob Mix Ecstasy Dance

closer to pick up on the fine details. They were excited. Everyone was… as they always are on Day 1. Come back on Day 5, 6 and 7 and see how excited everyone is! The “pedreiros” jumped in and began their dance with agile feet and a good rhythm. Everyone always has their unique steppin’-in-the-mud style but the Black Africans in Senegal definitely had a groove I’ve never seen that is somehow connected to their tribal dance steps. They twist their feet outwards and use their whole body weight at a nice clip. Here in Cabo Verde, not as African, there was a little less initial naturalness. As I said they are a rock land.

Nonetheless it wasn’t until we were almost finished with the walls that people REALLY got it. “Wow, these walls are strong!” the cheesemaker, the welder and the other rural folk began complimenting our work. “Touch it! Go ahead! Kick the walls!” I offered up. They did. A bit shy and surprised, they were not sure what to make of this new



technique for building that was clearly cheaper, natural, beautiful, local and sturdy. This part of the world is very set in their ways, we have learned. Things take a long time to come into effect. They got used to cement, didn’t they? We are moving forwards people….come along for the ride….

University professors, architects, engineers, contractors, the national TV, students and more neighbors all came by to see. You can talk about COB all day long….but it’s when you take action and make it happen by letting people mix and build and feel and see the wall growing in their hands that the magic of awakening and revolution begins to happen, one mix, one cob loaf, one builder, one cob family at a time. The auburn green-roofed12m2 room we built is now visible on the horizon to every passing vehicle on the road. Its unique shape and natural colors draw the eye and attention. Calháu will never be the same and has begun its road to showing an alternative to the concrete landscape of today. May the cob house speak for itself, silently creating transformation, a sensual kiss on the surface of Mother Earth.

Perfect Symmetry

Perfect Symmetry


Pictorial Evolution of a Cob Bathhouse, November 1, 2015

Just a short quick blog here to visually demonstrate the steps in building the bathhouse, which is still waiting for its green roof….

Next up:  An ultra-cool zen & sleek partially open cob house in Yène Kao, near Dakar in Senegal.  Here is an idea of the floor plan designed by Roos, the host of the workshop along with her husband Hans.  It includes a tire foundation and a two-tier roof for insulation reasons and an open front veranda….perfect for the Senegal lifestyle!

Senegal Workshop House Floor Plan

Senegal Workshop House Floor Plan