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Essential Light Straw Clay Construction (PDF)
The Complete Step-by-Step Guide
Light straw clay - straw mixed with clay slip - is a versatile, easy-to-use wall building material. Also called "slip-straw," its durability has been proven in beautiful, centuries-old buildings across Northern Europe and in modern high-performance buildings in North America.
Building code compliant in the US and using "waste" materials with high insulation value and excellent moisture handling qualities, it's both high-performance and low-impact.
Distilling decades of experience, Essential Light Straw Clay Construction is the most complete book in English on the broad range of light straw clay techniques in use today. Fully illustrated, it provides step-by-step guidance for both the DIYer and professional designer and builder alike. It covers:
- Material specifications, performance, and when and where to use it
- Estimating quantities, costs, and sourcing
- Illustrated, step-by-step guidance for mixing and installation, including "slip-chip" variations
- Detail drawings for various wall systems including stud, timber, and pole framing, Larsen trusses, I-joists, plus retrofits
- Code references, compliance, and best practice
- Finishing and maintenance techniques
- Additional resources.
Lydia Doleman, a licenced contractor, taught carpentry and natural building at Solar Energy International in Colorado and was lead ecological builder for Portland's City Repair project. She's created beautiful, high-performance, low-impact buildings across the Northwest, from Portland's first permitted straw bale home and The Rebuilding Center's cob entryway, to a 3,300-sq. ft. light straw clay brewery. She's written for The Last Straw Journal and Permaculture Activist and appeared on NBC News and HGTV's Off Beat America. Lydia lives in southern Oregon.
"Light straw-clay is one of the most versatile natural wall systems around, combining straw's insulation value with clay's thermal mass and preservative qualities for excellent performance in almost any climate. Why is it so little known? Partly due to a shortage of reliable how-to information in English. Lydia Doleman has solved that problem once and for all with this brilliantly written and illustrated guidebook. Absolutely the most useful book on the topic."
Michael G. Smith, co-editor, The Art of Natural Building and co-author, The Hand-Sculpted House
"Lydia Doleman is the best, and this book is the best. It is the book that Lydia would have liked to have had at the start of her journey to become one of the most talented, experienced, and professional natural builders in North America. Instead, after half a lifetime of designing and building and building and building, she has gathered it all together for us to have and use. This book really is for all of us, so we can go forth and use our own hands to build a better, more healthful and beautiful world."
Mark Lakeman, Founder and sustainer of communitecture and City Repair
"Lydia Doleman has written a "must have" resource on the multiple techniques for Light Straw Clay construction. Well researched and grounded in her own 20 years of hands-on natural building experience, her love of the craft, and her attention to detail shine through in every page."
Robert Laporte and Paula Baker-Laporte, authors, The EcoNest Home
"Essential Light Straw Clay Construction gives building professionals and owner-builders the knowledge and an array of options to design and construct a durable, resource-efficient, and high-performance home with the simple materials of earth, straw, and wood."
Martin Hammer, architect, co-author of the Light Straw-Clay appendix in the International Residential Code
"For thousands of years, straw and clay formed the bedrock of human habitat. The natural building revolution brought us many books on strawbale, cob, rammed earth, earthbags, hempcrete and adobe, but until now almost nothing on my favorite recommended style for ecovillages in every climate - light clay straw. Thanks to Lydia Doleman for the giving the world this comprehensive construction companion."
Albert Bates, author, The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide, The Biochar Solution, and The Paris Agreement
"We have been teaching natural building techniques since constructing our first Honey House earthbag dome in 1996. Yet in 2014 we chose the Light Straw Clay system to build a 300 square foot kitchen addition onto our existing stick frame house. We are living proof that Lydia's prescriptions and precautions will prepare you for a positively playful, pleasantly proficient workplace designed to produce a prize winning project. All presented in Ms Doleman's heartfelt pragmatic pioneering spirit that personifies the joy of natural building. Thank you Lydia, for providing a neat package of protocols that promote the virtues of light straw clay into our modern day perception."
Kaki Hunter and Doni Kiffmeyer, authors, Earthbag Building
"Having constructed several strawbale homes I found this book very informative comparing the similarities and differences to light straw clay."
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