The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: The Real Goods Solar Living Book Reviews

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3 Responses to The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: The Real Goods Solar Living Book Reviews

  • Brenda Curtiss says:
    226 of 231 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    I Spent Hours With This Awesome Book, December 11, 2002
    By 
    Brenda Curtiss (SouthEast USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: The Real Goods Solar Living Book (Paperback)
    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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  • waldorf_curric says:
    131 of 132 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    can’t be improved upon, May 19, 2005
    By 
    waldorf_curric
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    This review is from: The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: The Real Goods Solar Living Book (Paperback)
    For your inspiration, edification, and step by step hands-on & how-to, this book just can’t be improved upon. Long checklists to help you choose the perfect piece of land and how to situate the location of your home. A tutorial in using passive solar to heat your house. How to design its interior to embrace you, find your materials as inexpensively as possible, gather your tool kit (what’s essential, what’s not), test the soil you have, make cob samples and evaluate them. Starter projects such as walls, benches, and stoves. Mixing techniques, building techniques, finishing techniques. The history of cob, the durability of cob, a trouble-shooting guide. How to make your own paint, make your own floor, insulate, remodel the house if you want to, where to put the wiring, every practical detail is included as well as the philosophical… you will find inspiration on every page. Countless examples and real life stories are included, as well as color photographs of cob structures all over the world. This book doesn’t just critique the current system, it shows you a way out!

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  • Robert A Brookshire says:
    117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    About more than just cob, this book is required reading., May 2, 2004
    By 
    Robert A Brookshire (Winchester, KY USA) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage: The Real Goods Solar Living Book (Paperback)
    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”. This section of the book provides plenty of helpful advice and creative ideas that the Cob Cottage Company and other cob enthusiasts have developed over the years. None of the authors pull any punches. They obviously have pursued their Cob Revival with intelligent passion, being certain that potential builders understand the potential pitfalls and the keys to success. They know that failed projects can do have as much impact on society’s acceptance of cob and natural building than successful projects. Smith and crew really try to help the reader plan for success and encourage them at every step. While the reader would do well to take part in a cob building workshop for hands-on experience, they will get a very thorough understanding of the steps and techniques involved by reading this book. The authors’ credibility on cob construction is never in doubt here.
    Part 3 is an Onward by Linda Smiley. She attempts to spur the reader on to the next step(s) after reading this book. The entire book is treated as a beginning to a rewarding journey, not just an end to its own means. Smiley provides valuable advice on attending and sponsoring cob workshops. She also expands upon Evans’ introduction to alternative living ideas and encourages the reader to live in the moment. While this section is much shorter than the other two, it is important to the book. Ianto gets the reader fired-up about building with cob, Michael tells the reader how to actually do it, and Linda encourages them to put their new-found ideas into action.
    The Cob Cottage Company recognizes that cob is but one component of natural building. While the authors’ passion for mud is ever-present, so also is their understanding of region and site-specific alternatives and constraints. The Cob Cottage Company integrates and shares ideas with the growing community of natural building enthusiasts, always attempting to create solutions appropriate to the need. Oregon Cob truly offers amazing potential for affordable, durable, healthy housing, especially to owner/builders who can greatly offset the dollar cost of a home with their own efficient labor. Cob offers much greater earthquake resistance than unreinforced adobe, creating a simpler building process that anyone can learn. My review would not be complete without admitting that this book gave focus to numerous nagging doubts that I’ve long had about American culture and homebuilding. Though I have worked in residential construction for nearly a decade, I could never quite describe exactly why I found our homes (and my job) so inadequate until I read this book. Though my worldview and opinions continue to evolve with each new day and discovery, this book was surely a milestone for me. It changed my life in ways I have yet to even realize.

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