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The Hand-Sculpted House: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage [Paperback]

Ianto Evans , Michael G. Smith , Linda Smiley , Deanne Bednar
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 2002 Real Goods Solar Living Book

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The Hand-Sculpted House: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage + Earth-Sheltered Houses
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Product Description

About the Author

Ianto Evans is an applied ecologist, landscape architect, inventor, and teacher with building experience on six continents. Cob is traditional in his homeland, Wales. In addition to teaching ecological building, Ianto has consulted with USAID, the World Bank, the Peace Corps, and several national governments.

Michael G. Smith teaches practical workshops and consults on cob construction, natural building, and permaculture. He is the author of
Linda Smiley teaches workshops on cob, sculpting sacred spaces, intuitive design, and natural plasters and finishes. With a background as a recreational therapist, she specializes in helping people use natural building as a tool for personal transformation and healing.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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Most helpful customer reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Cob Cottage Company literally invented a building technique called "Oregon Cob". Their collective development includes not only high-quality cob mixing techniques, but also a holistic design and construction approach to suit both the building material and the sustainable living philosophies of the builders. The Cob Cottage Company has used this book to summarize more than a decade of research and development of both mind and mud. Each author has focused on one of three sections of the book and each contributes something unique.
Ianto appropriately begins the book by not only giving a history of earth and cob building, but also by helping the reader redefine their view of housing. I've read this section 3 times thus far. It contains so many great ideas and insights that the reader may want to keep a journal to remember them by. The authors' ideas concerning intuitive design with natural materials are amazing, yet proven. Ianto is definitely critical of industrial architecture (he was a trained and licensed architect in the UK) and corporate control, but not in a way that is unbearable or preachy. I find these sorts of viewpoints incredibly refreshing when communicated so well, whether or not I completely agree with them or not. Evans covers virtually all aspects of site selection and home design while also including interviews with a few cob home owner/builders. This section is surely the real magic of this book and may greatly alter the reader's perceptions of both shelter and its relation to the surrounding environment.
Part 2 describes the actual construction of a cob cottage. It is mostly authored by Michael Smith, who has authored another book detailing cob construction, "The Cobber's Companion".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, beautiful...but want more! Dec 20 2003
I'd give five stars except so many times, an interesting idea technique or feature is not as fully explained as i'd like. For example, the "lorena stove" sounds interesting, but i'm not satisfied with the brief description. But then, the authors do give references to other books, videotapes etc. that one may pursue. Many photos of cob being made, walls being built, and finished houses. I was already motivated to build a cob house before buying this book (from reading Dan Chiras' The Natural House) but now i'm even more fired up! This book is a HUGE help, inspiring, with useful detail, but is not in itself complete in detail for someone who want to build with cob. This book along with attending a cob workshop would be the ideal educational experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
If you only ever buy one book on cob building make sure it is this book! This book contains everything you can learn about cob without getting your hands dirty. Then it inspires you to go out and get your hands dirty. Everyone who is interested in natural building and ecological design should own a copy of this book. So many new techniques have come along since the first books on cob were published. It is great to have a book with all the new tips and ideas. If you've never heard of cob or if you think you know it all this book has something for everyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Spent Hours With This Awesome Book Dec 11 2002
I paid full price for this book at a retail Book store (I wish I had bought it here!). I have 2 other books on cob building also (Becky Bee's "The Cob Builders Handbook" - Which I highly recommend also & Michael Smith's "Cobbers Companion", I also recommend but Becky's, I feel is the better of the two.) However, THIS book stands out considerably. It is the MOST awesome book on cob building. It has wonderful photographs & drawings including additional privacy courtyard/outside ideas etc. There is nothing out there that can compare to this book to spark ideas and show the beauty, versatility & many options & benefits one has in cob building. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has even a slight interest in earth homes/cob building. If you are very interested in this or a related subject(straw bale etc.) you will LOVE this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a how-to guide April 4 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. I started by flipping through and reading here and there like I normally do with how-to guides. Then I gave up and read the whole thing from cover to cover, it was so interesting I could not put it down. This book was well written, and fun! I was left feeling very anxious to go outside and get my hands in the dirt and try making something with cob! Too bad for me it was the middle of winter in my northern Alberta Canada home!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sculpt Your Way to Freedom Sept. 6 2002
Building with Cob is the way to make your house fit you rather than you fitting yourself to the house(usually designed and built by someone else).

While the most comprehensive instruction manual on building a Cob home with your own hands (and feet!) this is also your ticket for an escape from mortgage(lit. "death-pledge") serfdom. One of the most important chapters of the book discusses the economics of house-building in a very enlightening way.

The book has superb illustrations well integrated into the text and colour photographs of cob houses.
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