It is a rare thing to have a photo of myself when I am the one usually taking all of the photos. I have to ask to have my picture taken. Many of you know Allen from following our blog. With Arron taking the photo this time. Mary is able to be a part of this blog in a new form. I insisted on my picture being taken because we are on scaffolding. I am not usually one that likes heights. Especially when walking on a narrow 2 x 10 board.
We are focusing on the kitchen walls now that the exterior glass bottles are roughed in. The mixture is an earthen cement. It is the same mixture that we use for the glass bottle bricks. A combination of cement, sand, clay, and water.
We lay out roughly a 3 inch layer of mud and then Allen putts in the bottles. Putting in the bottles is not as easy as it looks. I have tried it and it takes me forever to do it.
Once the bottle is put in the mud it has to be leveled with it's self and to the bottle next to it. This is to prevent the bottle from slanting and in helping to keep your row level.
The bottles also need to be leveled up and down as well. Otherwise by the time you get to the top you could have a slanted wall. Building with bottle bricks has been a really different experience. Allen learned a lot from when he put in the bottles for the bond beam. He took what he learned there and has been applying through trial and error on our kitchen walls. As long as you keep an eye on how the wall is progressing you can catch minor errors and adjust the next row of bottles to help fix that error.
I have to give Allen a lot of credit here. He has done a marvelous job on these kitchen bottle walls. He has built a straight wall. Has remembered when to put in all the electric lines, pipes and steel bars for hanging the cabinets with. And Allen has gotten really fast in leveling the bottles. By the time I get a mixture of mud made he has the previous bottles all laid out. Leveling bottles may seem easy. It doesn't look all that complicated in the photos. IT ISTN'T. You are working with a round 2 1/2 pound plastic bottle and each one can be a different shape. You have to level each end of the bottle because most of the plastic bottles have a curved shaped in the middle. By the time you get one end leveled to the other bottle it can throw off the leveling of the whole bottle and the other end. Each bottle needs to be leveled 4 times. Patience is a must when learning this.
One may ask, Well, How did you learn this? Good question. There are no books on doing this. We learned from looking at photos of the buildings built in the 3rd world countries. And from just doing it. We took this idea of building with compacted water bottles and used this idea in our project. Sometimes it just takes the guts of doing it to make it work.
The advantage of building with compacted bottle bricks is a really strong wall that will add thermal mass to your building. This means better regulated temperatures in your home. Our earthship is all about thermal mass.
I took this photo to show that Allen is now up in the rafters in putting this bottle wall up. He has to duck in-between the rafters now. The lights that you see are LED lights that Allen made himself. They are temporarily placed there so we could see when we have rainy weather outside. They will eventually be placed recessed within the ceiling.
We have so far put up 27 rows of bottles. When we first estimated how many rows that were going to be needed we figured on 30 rows for the shortest part of the wall. The ceiling gets higher going from the back of the front of the Earthship. Allen figures that we have two more rows for the back part of the wall and then we will be at the ceiling.
The east side entrance bottle work has now all been roughed in. We had two areas on the left hand side of the doorway to complete.
Our son Arron had been given the task to decide on how to construct the openings. He came up with the zig zag idea.
Now looking from the inside on the right hand side. Can you see the zig zag design with the blue and green bottles? We like the idea and how it turned out. Arron also wanted to use brown bottles. And since he chose not to put any in the zig zag design that was the main focus for the space to the far right. There is only enough room to put a row of bottles. Arron decided to use brown and clear bottles.
The ramps are new. They are to help in getting wheel barrows and our hand truck in and out of the earthship a little easier.
The west side entrance bottle work has been roughed in as well. This was designed by Allen. It has a different look from the east side. Arron decided for his space to put the zig zag design in again but changed the colors around.
This photo also shows the amount of papercrete that has been applied. The covering under the windows is all papercrete ( Home made insulation ). We have yet to fill in all of the gaps. The tires will end up being a completely smooth surface with a stucco finish going over top of the papercrete.
This is the inside view of the bottle work for the west side entrance. This now completes the exterior roughing in of the bottle work. Stucco will need to be applied for a finish coat to all of the bottle windows. All that is left for the exterior openings are for the doors to be put in place. Allen has to also design the windows that will open for the greenhouse and the sunroom areas.
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.