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The Hand-Sculpted House by Ianto Evans

 
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The hand-sculpted house, a Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley



Source: ChelseaGreen

Publisher: ChelseaGreen


Summary

A Cob Cottage might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure so attuned to its surroundings that the authors refer to it as "an ecstatic house". The authors of this book top authorities in the field, with an experience that goes back decades share their view on cob building with this book that is theoretical and philosophical but intensely practical as well. Cob is a mixture of non-toxic, recyclable, and often free materials: earth, clay, sand, straw, and water. Building with cob requires no forms, no cement, and no machinery of any kind. The end result is not a house but a vision. We tend to think of house building as having to be necessarily compatible with the surroundings, but a cob house in fact is the surroundings it doesn't have to blend in, it is in.
10 chapters of step-by-step how to do it, 9 chapters of background, including design, siting, budgeting and site preparation.
Ianto Evans and the other authors of this book work with cob, and conduct research on natural building through their company the cob cottage, more than thirty years hand-sculpting their lives as well as their homes.

Where to get it?

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

amazon.ca

chelseagreen


Related Videos






Related Podcast

podcast 060 book list part 1

podcast 239 with Maddy Harland


Related Threads

cob forum


Related Websites

Ianto Evans chelseagreen authors page

Cob Cottage company

 
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I would give this 8 out of 10 Acorns.

This was one of the first books I read that got me into the world of permaculture; you could say it was a "gateway" book that got me excited and eager to learn more. The contents of the book is like the title in that it goes into quaint details about cob building that truly make it a craft. But there is also plenty of information to build your own house. Sure, supplemental reading would be valuable, but if you are fine with learning as you go and fixing some mistakes down the road, this book'll do the trick. And honestly, as someone who experiences peralisys by analysis, not having ALL the other options laid out may be a downside.

And now I have a cob hot tub! There is a bunch of improvement (think rocket heater) to be done on it, and maybe I went against the rules and did cob outside unprotected and have had to use a cement based sealer on it. But it works! And I learned a bunch! And this books gave me enough info that made it pretty hard to fail to a point a regretting even starting. So the proof of this book's information and inspirational power is there nonetheless.

If I remember correctly, the book also does a great job of applying the permaculture design process to building a house. The steps through building a house that meets your needs, the lands needs, and the greater communities needs easy to follow and down to earth, no pun intended, although most of the communities needs are implicit through such concepts as conserving resources and locally sourcing materials when logical. The potential to create cheap environmentally friendly homes that a customized to the residents is well articulated and picture-ated with this book.

So thank you Cob Cottage; keep the great literature coming.
 
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Looks great - I'll have to add it to my collection.
 
pollinator
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Have people read, ""The Hand-Sculpted House"? What do folks think? Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN/1890132349/rs12-20
 
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Indispensable for the sheer quantity of information, but I think the actual instructions are intimidating and nit-picky. If you like to be told exactly how to do everything, it's great, but I prefer the looser, more improvisational attitude in Becky Bee's Cob Builders Handbook.
 
                    
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The foremost cobbing bible! It's an indispensable reference  for any natural builder. Becky Bee's book is great, and (mostly) freely available (http://weblife.org/cob/) but it's very basic in it's nature. The Hand Sculpted House goes much further in depth into the possibilities that are available without putting any strict rules on anything. Ianto, Linda, and Michael teach in a very general way; they present guidelines to get you started and ideas that are bound to spark amazing creativity.
 
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It's a good book for a lot of reasons.
It isn't A Pattern Language, but  covers design well.
I took quite a few notes when reading it.
 
                                        
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(I'm new here!)

I wrote a short essay for a class at school.
I'd love for you guys to read it and let me know what you think!

I can send it in .pdf



Thanks,
David
 
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I have read it and I really like it. Its not just the building part of the book but also all the smart tips in it on how you should/could think about building a house. Too not take any loan and to not build larger than u can finish in a season and stuff like that. Also its good inspiration.
 
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davidpitman wrote:
(I'm new here!)

I wrote a short essay for a class at school.
I'd love for you guys to read it and let me know what you think!

I can send it in .pdf

Thanks,
David



Upload it to megauploads.com, a free file sharing site
 
Suzy Bean
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I am putting together a book/dvd/magazine page for Paul, and to save him some time from making a (short paragraph) written review of everything, I figured I'd ask permie folks to write "what Paul would say" in each thread something is talked about.

So what would Paul say about this book?
 
pollinator
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I have it and have found it very valuable. I'd recommend it for sure.
 
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Having read it front to back, I would say it's the leading book on cob work. Considering Ianto's vast experience with the material and expertise in site location and understanding of passive solar and all that jazz, I think it's a book everyone should read if planning to build a cob house, or work with it in general. It's an easy read, and also super informative.
 
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Have it, and love it. Yes, it can be a bit preachy at times, but it's full of enormously valuable information, ideas, and inspiraton for natural builders (cob or otherwise).

Doug
 
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Wonderful book! Adding to the other comments, Ianto demystifies passive solar design so anyone can learn to take advantage of the sun to heat their home. I think the philosophical section is of great value too.
 
Jake Parkhurst
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I would give this book 8 out of 10 Acorns.

This was one of the first books I read that got me into the world of permaculture; you could say it was a "gateway" book that got me excited and eager to learn more. The contents of the book is like the title in that it goes into quaint details about cob building that truly make it a craft. But there is also plenty of information to build your own house. Sure, supplemental reading would be valuable, but if you are fine with learning as you go and fixing some mistakes down the road, this book'll do the trick. And honestly, as someone who experiences peralisys by analysis, not having ALL the other options laid out may be a downside.

And now I have a cob hot tub! There is a bunch of improvement (think rocket heater) to be done on it, and maybe I went against the rules and did cob outside unprotected and have had to use a cement based sealer on it. But it works! And I learned a bunch! And this books gave me enough info that made it pretty hard to fail to a point a regretting even starting. So the proof of this book's information and inspirational power is there nonetheless.

If I remember correctly, the book also does a great job of applying the permaculture design process to building a house. The steps through building a house that meets your needs, the lands needs, and the greater communities needs easy to follow and down to earth, no pun intended, although most of the communities needs are implicit through such concepts as conserving resources and locally sourcing materials when logical. The potential to create cheap environmentally friendly homes that a customized to the residents is well articulated and picture-ated with this book.

So thank you Cob Cottage; keep the great literature coming.
 
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I give this book 9.5 out of 10 acorns. It is a complete guide to design and build a cob structure. It includes concepts such as "round feet" to help get our heads around the idea of a round house. It tells how to assess the soil, how to tell silt from clay, where to find a clay bank, just oodles of information.

It has beautiful photographs of beautiful cob buildings, from the free form sculptured houses of today, to traditional British houses with thatched roofs, to a house in New Zealand that is square, and looks like it could have been built out of 2 x 4s, that is a couple hundred years old and has withstood major earthquakes.

Though other books may be published that explain one thing or another better or with more eloquence, The Hand Sculpted House will remain a classic on the topic of cob building.

Thanks Ianto, Linda, and Michael for making cob accessible through this book and you r many workshops over the years.
 
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns!

This is another one of those books that I have been trying to read cover to cover for a couple years but couldn't get myself to finish it. So, I'm going to post a review based on what I have read. I read everything up to Chapter 12 of this book, and then, I found it got to be a little too dry, because there is a certain amount of leisurely personal enjoyment I desire in reading books for fun that I find to be lacking whenever things start to read more like a technical manual.

The reason I give this book 10 out 10 acorns is that I believe the book accomplishes its purpose very well- "We have written this book to expand your notions of what is possible aesthetically, ecoogically, and in terms of the spirit of the building- how it makes you feel." I found The Hand-Sculpted House to do a wonderful job of this, and the organization of the book to be logical and helpful.

"Part 1 explains what you should consider before ever picking up a tool- why and where to build." I found Part 1 (Chapters 1-7) to be pretty easy, delightful, and educational reading. Of these chapters, I most appreciated Chapters 1, 3, and 7. I appreciated Chapter 1 on Natural Building for its broader picture and explanation of what it means to build and have a place to live. I enjoyed Chapter 3 on Creative Economics, because I find alternative approaches to finances to be rather interesting. I liked Chapter 7 on Redefining "House" a lot, because I find the approach it took to the design process for the house (Zone 0) to be intuitive and reminiscent of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. For all of the chapters in Part 1, I appreciated the broader context and explanation of the rational, the science, and the philosophy behind natural building and working with cob. It made this section very enjoyable to read and probably easy to pick up for anyone.

"Part 2 is the how-to-do-it section, for people who want to or need to be able to build their own house." This is chapters 8-17. I read chapters 8-11 of this. I liked chapters 8 and 9 the most, because I enjoyed the philosophy bits on hand tools and site respect. I also enjoyed the basics of cob. Just around Chapter 12 I found it to start reading too dry to be pleasure reading, and at that point, I think I will only be reading the rest of the book when I really really need that knowledge.

"The final Onward talks about the sheer joy of building." I did not read this but perhaps might skip ahead to read this later.

The book also includes Appendices, a glossary, additional resources, and recommended books.
 
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