Making the Mud Hut

If you haven’t heard from our friends by now, we’re building a mud hut.

To start, the shelter expert group went to Ft. Slocum to collect sticks.

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Like with any project, we’ve run into some bumps along the way.  During the second work day, we began digging and realized that the selected spot had concrete below the soil.  The next day, we set out like treasure hunters, digging through the Pre-K courtyard until we found a spot where we could dig at least a foot deep.  We dug holes and stuck in the sticks that would hold up our walls.  We spent a week weaving in and tying sticks to build the base of our mud hut.

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Finally it was time to begin working with mud.  A weekend was spent getting clay from a friend who built her own cob house in Davidsonville, Maryland, straw and sand from Home Depot, and tools from Ms. Yamamoto.

Preparing the mud for the hut requires many steps.  And no, we didn’t use cow dung.

We bathed the clay in water all weekend. So the first step was to process the clay by pushing it through a screen.  We didn’t realize how hard this part would be.

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Meanwhile, some friends were cutting the straw into smaller pieces.  During service, our Pre-K friends help us cut even more straw!

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Once we had enough processed clay, it was time to mix it!  We mixed two parts clay with one part sand and many fistfulls of straw. We added homemade wheat paste to help stick it together. To mix it, we stomped, danced, and jumped in the kiddie pool.

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And yes, we wore clothes that we had planned to get dirty.

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Once the mud mixture was ready, we scopped it into balls and began to build the walls.

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We still have more work to do on the mud hut and need much more clay!  The clay that we used was from a local construction site. Our soil is rich with clay.  If you or someone you knows is digging up their yard or works in landscaping or construction, please let us know!  Spread the word!  http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/wan/4474440780.html

 

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