Saturday, June 7, 2014


At the end of  June we are hosting an Introduction to Natural Plaster Workshop here at the Bioshelter. I realize that I really know almost nothing about Natural Plasters. But Sasha, our instructor, is so enthusiastic, she assured me that she could teach 20 people how to become really good natural plasterers in a weekend. I took her offer.

She tells me there are so many benefits to earthen plasters. The first and obvious one is paint. Our paints are so toxic and off-gas like crazy.

Make shelves
Add texture
"Indoors, products that contain volatile organic compounds release emissions when you use them, and to a smaller degree, when they are stored. You can be exposed to volatile organic compounds at home if you use cleaning, painting, or hobby supplies that contain them. You can also be exposed if you dry clean your clothes with home dry-cleaning products; if you dry-clean your clothes at a professional dry-cleaners; or if you use graphics and crafts materials such as glues, permanent markers, and photographic solutions."   
"Long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Short-term exposure to volatile organic compounds can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, and memory impairment." 

What I especially like is the benefits clay has for my allergies. The natural finishes help people with chemical sensitivities and respiratory issues too. For health reasons alone, you should bring these natural plasters into your current home and retrofit it into a healthier place to live.

I really like that I can dig clay out of the ground and use it. It's a local resource (if you can find it) and so fun to play with! It brings be right back to my play dough days. Remember those days? Full of fun, no pressure, no need to hurry to finish. It feels like that when you are working with clay.

If you find a local source, it is so much more sustainable than shipping paint up from the Lower 48. It has a much cleaner carbon footprint than paint does and the look is so much more earthy than having just paint or wall paper. And the clean up? So easy. Toss it out the back door! It doesn't harm the environment at all! It turns back into earth. How great is that?

Clay plasters are natural, environmentally friendly, and life-enhancing, adding character and warmth to any space. What is almost magical is that clay allows a building to "breathe." High moisture content moves in and out of clay depending on what the room needs. A good use of a clay wall might be in a bathroom, where moisture from baths and showers are always present. This helps the durability of the walls, roof and foundation.

The only question left is: why didn't I know this sooner? 

You can join us for this weekend workshop/retreat:  June 28th and 29th.  We'll gather on Saturday morning around 9am.  Saturday we will focus on base plasters.  A healthy organic lunch and dinner will be included. Saturday night there will be a lecture/slide show by Sasha to see other possibilities.  It's strongly encouraged to bring a sleeping bag and use some floor space in the bioshelter or the greenhouse to sleep instead of driving home at night.  It saves energy and allows us to get a good start on Sunday morning learning finished plasters.  Breakfast and lunch will be included that day and we will finish at 5pm.  

This is a great opportunity to work with Sasha Rabin, who has been practicing and teaching natural building since 2002. She has dedicated her work to encouraging people to engage with our built environment, and through that process reconnect with world around us.  She currently lives and works at Quail Springs Permaculture Farm in California.

To save your spot for this awesome workshop, click HERE.  Enroll before June 15th for the early bird special discount.

"A Fine Finish: Natural Wall Finishes, Nontoxic Paints and Clay Plasters."Mother Earth Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2014. .
"Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) En EspaƱol Volatile Organic Compounds Change Easily from Liquid Form to Vapor." U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr. 2014. Web. 7 June 2014.

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