Staci Kopcha

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since Nov 04, 2017
Western Washington State
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Recent posts by Staci Kopcha

Thank you, Thomas and Satamax, for checking!

It is almost finished and ready for its long dry time (before plaster).  I need one more batch of cob to finish the end of the bench and the back of the manifold (chimney pipe), and up the barrel aways.
There is cracking, but it appears superficial.
I did purchase half a cord of wood, "dried, seasoned" supposedly, but not super great.  Learning as I go.
Yesterday I picked up a pile of free branches, cut last spring.
I am getting really adept at ax wielding and wood splitting!

Question: what is best for sawing  (easiest!) for small logs/branches (1-3" diameter)??

My little dragon is working well!!  IF I use only round pieces, it runs like a dream.  Easy, no smoke- perfect.  
IF the rounds are too tall: smoke. (hence needing a way to trim the logs)
IF I use any splits ( square, rectangle, triangle): smoke and babysitting.

We have had unseasonably cold weather here: 20's-30's.  It is the ONLY heat source in that room.  It heats it up nicely, and also the surrounding areas in the rest of the house.
ANd the kettle of water is always ready for tea.
MOST awesome, I will run it for a few hours in the evening, shut it down around 8 pm, and in the morning the WHOLE ROOM is still warm!!! (we used to get frost on the inside windows).
 I can settle on the bench to drink my coffee and it is still warm!!
1 week ago
Hi Loretta,
 You are in good hands here!

I just wanted to throw out that I got a bag of Perlite off of Amazon. Free shipping and pretty cheap.  I later saw the same product at a local farm supply store.
I ordered the rockwool blanket on line as well.  I could give you the supplier if you want it.
I am lucky enough to have a Clay Art supply store within 10 miles of my house.  They sell Lincoln 60 Fire Clay.  Maybe there is a pottery studio or such in your area??

2 weeks ago

Cindy Skillman wrote:I have zero experience with RMHs, but for 20+ years I’ve worked with clay, so maybe I can give you at least some ideas about things to try.

These are just ideas, and maybe you’re not into that much fussing around (and maybe they won’t work anyway) but that’s what I’d start with if I were looking to finish a baby dragon and make her lovely.

Thank you, Cindy!
It is mostly clay work at this point.  I appreciate the input. I got the manifold and 1/4 the first bench covered today. I'll see how she weathers and then may experiment with the T.P.
Your explanation of the barrel/clay junction sounds spot on. I like Mike Tudor's idea of the stove gasket there- kind of a buffer/transition zone between the steel and clay.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
3 weeks ago

Mark Tudor wrote:The Hand Sculpted House has plenty of detail in cob construction pointers that could help.

You could perhaps get fire stove gasket to embed around the barrel where it meets the cob to create a thermal transition to prevent the cob from cracking.

Thanks, Mark!
I like the gasket idea.
I will see if I can find the book at the library.
3 weeks ago

David Huang wrote:

So based on this recent observation, and without the benefit of further study (hence why you should take this with a grain of salt) I'd suggest that perhaps you aren't getting the mix wet enough to allow the clay in it to be it's full sticky self making good bonds to all the other materials.

Hi David,
 Thank you for the thoughtful reply!
Funny thing:  I had two batches of cob made up.  One I pulled into the house, other was rolled in a tarp outside.
Well, I guess it was leaky, cause when I pulled that one in today, it is very sloppy. (from the rain). SO, by the shear will of nature, I am trying your suggestion!
We'll see how it goes this round.

Are you doing straight fire clay and sand?

Thanks again!
3 weeks ago
Beyond hope.
I started putting on the last cob layer today (straw cob), poking in to get a join and then smoothing out the surface.
Cracks are forming EVERYWHERE.  I keep wetting to slow the drying, and filling in cracks and smoothing.
Problem is, I have yet to achieve crack free cob.
If I reduce the amount of clay (recommended course for cracking cob), it turns to sandy crumble and sloughs away, especially when adding straw.  It is just sandy straw that will stick to nothing.
I have experimented with various amounts of dirt as well.  Also some potter clay scraps vs. fire clay.
I did read recently, that someone else had the same experience when using the fire clay and sand.
I have been unable to find any local source of clay, try as I might, except near the salmon stream where salmon are still actively spawning.
I feel like I am back to my (unhappy) starting point. like trying to read, but having never mastered the alphabet.
If it is all cracking, do I just plaster over cracks?

3 weeks ago
Hi All-
  Just wanted to say how THANKFUL I am for all of you wonderful Permies out there!!! :)
 You have been instrumental with your help, input, feedback, support and humor.  This thanksgiving, we will be eating dinner with a baby dragon roaring in the next room.
There have been days where I wanted to throw in the towel with my build. There are also times that my build and my "Permies friends" made the daily grind of life that much brighter.
I thank you all!
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

3 weeks ago

David Huang wrote:Here's one final image I took by putting my camera down into the burn chamber so I could see what was happening.  This is as far in as I could reach on my 6 inch system to clean out ash.  Next it would seem that I need to figure out some sort of clean out tool to make so I can get all the way back.  Is there something readily available most other people use that I don't know about?  Fortunately for me I'm a metalsmith by trade so designing and making something shouldn't be too difficult, but I'm wondering how others deal with this issue?

Hi David- great pictures and work!!'
I am currently using an old cat food can and stretching my arm as far as I can.  I find that if I do more than one burn in a day, red coals are still there, making the metal can a red hot can. So then I interchange with an altoids tin. Real high-tech here ;)
Would also love to know if anyone has ideas on this!

3 weeks ago