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Natural Building with Michael G. Smith: Straw Bale, Cob, Light Straw Clay, Slip & Chip

July 24, 2022 - July 30, 2022


Learn the techniques you need to build a low-carbon, energy-efficient home in any climate. This workshop teaches the hands-on skills needed to construct both high-insulation (straw bale, light straw-clay, slip-and-chip) and thermal mass walls (cob), using low-cost, locally available materials including clay soil, straw, and wood. These wall systems are easy to learn, inexpensive, beautiful, durable, and fire-resistant. Which one you choose depends on your climate, design, and local resources – or build a hybrid home utilizing multiple wall systems to maximize efficiency and design flexibility!

Most of each day will be spent constructing an actual hybrid home. Hands-on building will be supplemented with daily lectures and slide shows that provide the theoretical understanding you will need to design your home: finding and testing clay soils and other local resources; foundations, drainage and moisture protection; passive solar design; structural and thermal properties of different natural wall systems; how to develop your own successful recipes for cob and natural plasters, and more! 

Camp under the trees on this remote and peaceful community property in Washington’s Okanagan Valley. Three delicious meals per day will be prepared on site, emphasizing organic and local ingredients. Meet new friends who want to help build a healthier future. Register soon, as space is limited.


Michael G. Smith has nearly three decades experience with natural building; he has taught over 120 hands-on workshops ranging from one-day earthen oven workshops to three-month professional trainings, and has designed or built close to 100 natural-building projects using many different techniques, including cob, straw bale, straw-clay, wattle-and-daub, rice-crete, earthen floors, natural plasters, and many more. Energy efficiency, passive solar design, empowerment of people through simple, accessible techniques, and the regenerative use of locally available materials are always the focus of his work. In 1993, he helped found The Cob Cottage Company in Oregon; the next year, he organized the first Natural Building Colloquium. He is a founding director of The Cob Research Institute, which developed the first building code for cob. He is co-author of The Hand-Sculpted House and The Art of Natural Building. He finds writing and teaching about natural building to be an excellent way to empower people to make positive changes in their lives and for the planet. He now lives and farms with his family in Northern California. Learn more at strawclaywood.com.


The base fee is $840 per person. Our aim is to provide the most enriching learning experience possible that is accessible to everyone.  We have many discounts available in addition to work-trade opportunities.  If you want to join us, we want you to be here so let’s make it happen!  Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Natural building sites are family friendly and we welcome all ages (inquire about rates & special circumstances for minors).

  • Family and Friends discount 10% off: Register together and each person gets a discount.
  • EARLY BIRD Discount 10% off: Pay in full by June 10th to receive discount.
  • BIPOC price 20% off: We acknowledge that many techniques of earthen building have been learned and adapted from cultures around the world that have been marginalized and even destroyed. May this be a way to include people who have been systemically isolated from ancestral knowledge and hereditary wealth.
  • Discounts are cumulative up to a maximum of 25% off.
  • 1 Economic Hardship/Full Work trade available – includes arriving before the workshop to set up and staying after to clean up.
  • Partial work trade for partial enrollment discount is available (please inquire).


July 24, 2022
July 30, 2022
Event Category:


Tonasket, WA United States + Google Map


Ariahna Jones
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