The purpose of this handbook is to show you how you can build your own magical, practical, long-lasting home for very little money and have a wonderful time doing it!
Cob is in the early stages of being rediscovered in the modern world. Ideas and innovations are popping up all the time. I wish I could say I learned cob from the folks of the past generation, but I can't. I am sharing my "modern" cob experience and current thoughts.
Because cob is such a tactile kind of thing, I usually teach about it via hands-on workshops. It's easy to show people how to do it. When I sat down to write this book, I was amazed at how many words it takes to describe something that fingers can understand without a single word! Cobbing is easy. All the text makes a simple thing seem a lot more complicated than it really is. Try it! You can do it! Think of the words in this book as a reminder of what your common sense and ancient memory already know.
My intention in writing this handbook is to encourage the rebirth of natural building. This book is designed to make it easy for you to join other pioneers in this wholesome adventure. It is written for people with or without building experience. I hope this is the kind of book that you will want to keep and pass on to young people to inspire them to build natural homes in the future. (I wish that it could be made out of cob so it would last for hundreds of years.)
Building with cob is a powerful political action, greatly reducing the need for the mortgage systems, lumber and construction industries, and petrochemical companies. Cob builders spend less of their lives working to pay for all of the above, and more time living. Making homes with natural materials gathered gently from the earth improves the likelihood of the survival of life itself.
Throughout history, women have worked together homemaking, farming, cooking and raising children. This is the glue of community. Today in the modern western world, most women are isolated from one another and are usually dependent on men and/or the patriarchal system for their shelter. Cobbing is a way for women to re-experience a sense of community and be empowered to make more life choices for themselves.
This book is put together by me, Becky Bee. I've loved building as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I built tree houses and designed underground forts. I grew up in Central America and spent a year in Africa. The beauty and serenity of the natural houses there felt like home to me. When I was living in New Zealand during the eighties, I was excited to find cob homes in the western world.
As long as I can remember I've had the vision of sustainable living - the garden, the handmade house, the little creek. I love the idea of being part of nature.
I've enjoyed creating lots of different kinds of buildings: log cabins, sweat lodges, tents, teepees, straw bale, adobe, conventional frame, recycled wood and cob homes. I was first introduced to cob in 1989 at a workshop offered by Bella and Richard Walker in New Zealand.
In 1993 I took a course in pottery, fell in love with clay sculpting, and found the artist in myself. Around that time, I again went to a cob workshop, this time being taught by lanto Evans and Michael Smith. I picked their brains and cobbed with them that year. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Cob building brought together my loves: clay, people, health, beauty, home and building!
I have been researching cob and teaching about it ever since. I love the feeling of being part of a team working together to create a strong, sensuous building. I am absolutely delighted to have found something that I love to do that makes sense, in a world where lots of things don't!