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The Hand-Sculpted House: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: A Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage (The Real Goods Solar Living Book): 10 [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Ianto Evans , Michael G. Smith , Linda Smiley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 1990 Real Goods Solar Living Book
Are you ready for the Cob Cottage? This is a building method so old and so simple that it has been all but forgotten in the rush to synthetics. A cob cottage,cobb, however, might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure so attuned to its surroundings that its creators refer to it as "an ecstatic house." The authors build a house the way others create a natural garden. They use the oldest, most available materials imaginable--earth, clay, sand, straw, and water--and blend them to redefine the future (and past) of building. Cob (the word comes from an Old English root, meaning "lump") is a mixture of non-toxic, recyclable, and often free materials. Building with cob requires no forms, no cement, and no machinery of any kind. Builders actually sculpt their structures by hand. Building with earth is nothing new to America; the oldest structures on the continent were built with adobe bricks. Adobe, however, has been geographically limited to the Southwest. The limits of cob are defined only by the builder's imagination. Cob offers answers regarding our role in Nature, family and society, about why we feel the ways that we do, about what's missing in our lives. Cob comes as a revelation, a key to a saner world. Cob has been a traditional building process for millennia in Europe, even in rainy and windy climates like the British Isles, where many cob buildings still serve as family homes after hundreds of years. The technique is newly arrived to the Americas, and, as with so many social trends, the early adopters are in the Pacific Northwest. Cob houses (or cottages, since they are always efficiently small by American construction standards) are not only compatible with their surroundings, they ARE their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. They are full of light, energy-efficient, and cozy, with curved walls and built-in, whimsical touches. They are delightful. They are ecstatic.

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Frequently Bought Together

The Hand-Sculpted House: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: A Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage (The Real Goods Solar Living Book): 10 + Building with Cob: A Step-by-step Guide + Building with Straw Bales: A Practical Guide for the UK and Ireland
Price For All Three: £44.44

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Co (1 Jan 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890132349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132347
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 20.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ianto Evans is an applied ecologist, landscape architect, inventor, and teacher with building experience on six continents. Cob is traditional in his homeland, Wales. In addition to teaching ecological building, Ianto has consulted with USAID, the World Bank, the Peace Corps, and several national governments. Michael G. Smith teaches practical workshops and consults on cob construction, natural building, and permaculture. He is the author of The Cobber's Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home and co-editor of The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources. Linda Smiley teaches workshops on cob, sculpting sacred spaces, intuitive design, and natural plasters and finishes. With a background as a recreational therapist, she specializes in helping people use natural building as a tool for personal transformation and healing.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration in book form 14 May 2004
A truly excellent book, a tad other worldly in places but in terms of inspiring a person to build a house from eco friendly materials, paying attention to the design process and generally making you want to stop whatever you are doing and begin building immediately, there is no competition.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes your dreams come true! 27 Mar 2009
Well written, great diagrams and drawings to assist you visually, beautiful photos to inspire you and a real in depth approach to cob building! I particularly like the fact that it gives a good idea of the history, social, emotional and economic implications of cob building, and the importance of the relation between your house and the environment it in which it is in. Definitely a must for anyone interested in building their own cob house, or a wall or an oven, or simply for those who have an interest in sustainability and natural buildings! Thanks Linda and Ianto!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I had wanted to read this book for ages, and so it was a momentous moment when I found it in my local library. And it was every bit as good, ground-breaking and life-changing as I had hoped. I've long been interested in natural building, and build my own cob/straw bale home. But this book is more than a series of techniques or house plans - it makes you think about what a home should be, how you'll live in it, and to understand the concept of minimal environmental disruption.

I think that having read this book I will end up building a smaller, more organically-shaped and also more personal building, and one which will be a far more positive place to live. I look around me at the vast, boxy, homogenous houses which fill (and blight) the Irish countryside, and I wish more people would read this book! It's so good that even though I read it as a library book I will be buying my own copy read is not enough!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been toying with building my own sustainable house for a few years, and have bought half a dozen books. This one leaves the rest standing. A delight to read with very good practical advice often mentioning the things that other books overlook,sparkling dewdrops of philosophy and a source book for inspiration. What more could you want?
Get the book, get the land and get building!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By karl
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because i wanted to learn how to build a house out of cob. Period. I was not interested in the "philosophy" aspect because i was already sold on the idea and i also assumed that it would be one man standing on a soapbox and waxing pretentiously. However, i began to really appreciate the way the author inserted his philosophy on building because is super practical and really illuminated some aspects of building and of living in general that made me feel even more empowered to start building my own house. I look forward to rereading i, which i rarely do with books..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring! 2 Jan 2013
By Solas
I had been toying with the notion of buying this book for some time, afraid of opening a pandora's box and becoming even more disillusioned with our current consumer culture and way of living (which was quite). I am only sorry I didn't buy it sooner! I now have a hope and a vision for a different future for myself and those I love. I find that a lot of books on the subject of sustainable living and permaculture are quite specialist and exclusive. This beautiful book is neither.

Each writer tackles a different aspect of designing and building a cob cottage, giving you three different perspectives and sources of knowledge. This book is truly holistic in its' approach to building a cob home. It is practical, detailed (without being overly daunting) and an inspiration. There is a belief in the right for each individual to own their own home, however most of us spend our lives in debt as a result. Ianto questions this and encourages us to understand that it is possible for anyone to build their own home at very little expense with basic skills and equiped with a bit of knowledge. I had been researching cob homes proir to buying this book. The evidence that cob building is a viable and long-lasting building technique is all around us. This book gently encourages us to dream of possiblity and then nudges us in the direction of seeing that possibility come to fruition. It asserts that it is something that can be done by young and not so young alike.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you are interested at all in the subject of building your own home or sustainable living. I was so inspired by it that I am going to go on a cob-building workshop next summer where I will hopefully get to put my new-found learning to good use.
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