How can I learn to cob with the best of them?
February 7, 2008 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Cob on the corn(er): where can I learn to mix and build with cob?

I want to know (where? how much? with whom? did you try it?) about Portland, OR area classes on building with cob. If you have personal experience with books on cob building, that would be welcome too (only ones you yourself have used, please), but a class is really what I'd like.

This stuff seems amazing and I've read up a little on it, but I'd really like some person-to-person instruction.

Later I may have to do a follow-up on tips and tricks, but right now I just need some basic instruction on planning, materials, and techniques.
posted by eralclare to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about Becky Bee? Right close nearby an' everything.

A bit out of date online, but recommended to me by green consultants.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2008

She also has a book, available online.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2008

Not quite Portland, but check out,, and
posted by harmfulray at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2008

posted by tiburon at 2:31 PM on February 7, 2008

There's that annual festival. Can't remember the name of it but it's coming up, I believe coordinated by the City Repair Project.
posted by salvia at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008

salvia is talking about the Village Building Convergence. It's in May, and there are generally a few cob projects that you can volunteer on and learn that way.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:18 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, the VBC has no cob this year, but thanks for that heads up, it looks interesting (maybe I'll get involved anyway). I'll dig into those other sites--Coquille looks the most promising, though it's a bit farther away than I'd like. I'm surprised, I thought there would be a lot more available in the Portland area.

Thanks for all your suggestions so far. If anyone else has any other ideas for hands-on introductions to cob, please chime in!
posted by eralclare at 6:15 PM on February 7, 2008

I would just add that cob is not high tech, so you can't go far wrong getting one of the books and having at it. It's mud, sand, and straw in the right proportions. Build a bench, or an oven, or a low wall–you'll see, it's easy.
posted by bricoleur at 6:56 PM on February 7, 2008

What bricoleur said. If you've got a backyard with soil, you can practice on your own with all sorts of little projects and then smash them up and recycle them back into the soil if you're unhappy. I'd recommend doing anything larger than a bench with a friend, because cob is slow work.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:22 PM on February 8, 2008

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