Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Working on a Building

On each of my four Habitat for Humanity volunteer projects, I have encountered a different style of house and different building materials.
Dennis surveys our work
Here in Marszewo, Beyond Poznan, Poland, we're working with clay "bricks" of clay/mud/straw that are big and heavy -- kind of the size of a breadbox, actually-- and that I probably should have taken a picture of rather than trying to describe. You can kind of see them in this picture to the right, there below the wood.

This is basically what I spent the first two days of the build doing, usually with Dennis as my partner, although on Tuesday afternoon I switched to working with Rick, and I noticed that I got a lot dirtier working with him. Rick apparently just likes to splash plaster and muddy water all over (me) without a second thought.

The upstairs scene
Of course, this upstairs work was nothing compared to Wednesday, when I moved outside to mixing. That involves pouring the clay mud liquid into a bathtub, adding straw, and mixing it together using our hands and arms, until it solidifies into the plaster we use inside for sticking the giant bricks together. It is impossible not to get very muddy during this task, despite the use of rubber gloves, and the cool, damp, gray weather kept the ground nice and muddy, too. This mixing is also a very muscle intensive job. Yea, workout!

This whole clay house thing, by the way, is very environmentally friendly, although some people in the area are confused as to why our homeowner wants to build using natural materials like they did 100 years ago or longer. Some other Barka people who have received land and will be building houses decided to wait and check out how this eco-house project went before committing themselves to the same kind of house. They remain a bit skeptical. We remain more than a bit muddy.

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