Welcome to StrawBale.com
My name is Andrew Morrison and welcome to my straw bale building site dedicated to anyone interested in building their own straw bale house. If you are brand new to straw bale or are a straw bale construction specialist there's something for you at StrawBale.com.
Click here if you are NEW TO STRAW BALE BUILDING and want to know the basics about straw bale construction.
I have a ton of information for you including: photo gallery, step-by-step instructional videos, information about straw bale workshops around the world, free straw bale articles, free straw bale social network, and a full straw bale building blog.
Be sure to sign up for my e-mail updates and my free 16 day straw bale e-course so we can keep you posted of the latest developments in the ever-changing world of straw bale.
p.s. If you are eager to fast track your education in straw bale construction, click here.
Water is enemy number 1 in straw bale construction. The good news is that with proper design and construction details, your straw bale house will stay dry and moisture issue free. The key to installing plumbing in a bale house is to create ‘water isolation walls’. I describe how to do this in the latest Straw Bale Minute. You can access it by clicking on the video link below:
Many of you will remember the publication The Last Straw and may have spent many hours reading through the informative articles over the years. Some of you may have never heard of it because it has been “on sabbatical” for some time. The good news is that it is coming back. Please take a few minutes to read the information below from the new editor, Jeff Rupert.
Update on Issue #62 and Our Funding Campaign
Here at TLS we are working feverishly to get Issue #62 out. If you are a subscriber, expect to receive it around the beginning of February. Many of the articles are already up on our website and are accessible to current subscribers.
To re-start The Last Straw we knew it would require more resources than we would collect through subscriptions alone. That is why we have always planned to ask for donations. This is your chance to support us and ensure we will continue delivering your favorite natural building journal.
Here in the US (and in many other countries), straw bale construction is pretty widely accepted. There are supporting building codes, resources and products sold in English. But this is not the reality in many countries around the world and it is up to highly motivated, passionate folks like our friends Maria and Grzegorz to pound the pavement and get the word out there.
Grzegorz and Maria have done an awesome job of getting the word out in Romania and now are asking for support in the form of an IndieGoGo campaign. They are raising money to be able to go to one of the largest building expos in Romania where they can get information about straw bale construction in front of a huge amount of people. We hope you will support them reach their goal and take a step towards making Romania one of the hot spots for straw bale construction.
To visit their campaign, please click HERE
Oh I love the time of month when we notify the winner of our FREE straw bale workshop drawing! I always feel a little like one of Santa’s helpers and get a warm fuzzy feeling when I read how happy and appreciative the winners are. This month’s winner is Ryan….congratulations Ryan! We are super excited you’ll be joining us at the Vernonia, OR workshop! World, meet Ryan:
I am 35 years young. I am a novice herbalist. I practice yoga. I spend time in nature amongst the trees, plants, mushrooms, and creatures. I adore making herbal medicines for my friends and family – stirring, pouring, chopping, shaking, garbling, and giving thanks.
My husband Michael and I spent eight months in 2013 traveling through Ecuador, Peru and across the United States. Our journey was wild; ambitious; memorable; daunting at times, and unbelievablyrewarding at others. Our adventures were filled with long bus rides and even larger backpacks. We slept in tents; hostels; and huts, hiked through forests; mountains; and jungles, met and traveled with amazing people, learnt, unravelled, were vulnerable.
Why straw bale? I have spent time in two of the most amazing straw bale spaces. The natural energy of the space resonates with me. The affordability of constructing a straw bale home resonates with me. I tend to be quite non-committable. The idea of buying land or a house frightens me because it means I will have to stay put. But, straw bale is always whispering in my ear. Maybe I am finally ready to commit. I can’t wait to learn. Green blessings and much peace, Ryan O’Connor Wolik. Please visit my man Michael’s website: http://www.mfwolik.com/
I know, I know…For most of you this is old information, BUT if there are any folks out there that still have a worry in their minds (and it’s OK if you do!) about straw bale houses and rodent invasions, this latest “Straw Bale Minute” is a must watch. Trust me, rodents would much prefer to set up residence in your neighbor’s conventionally built house with lovely pink insulation than live in straw bale walls. You can hear why in this “Minute” below:
Do you love straw bale construction? Do you love tiny houses? Do you like what I have to share (you know…for the most part??) Then listen in while I am interviewed by Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life and Macy Miller of MiniMotives! We have really enjoyed getting to know those two and love what they are doing to help recalibrate the world’s view on housing size. We would love to have your company!
The show will air at 8pm Eastern Time Monday, January 20th, 2014. To join us go to:
A myth lurks still that somehow running electrical wiring through straw bale walls is more dangerous than running it through a conventional wall system. That is complete nonsense and I’ll tell you why and how to install wiring in a bale wall in this latest issue of “The Straw Bale Minute”. Click on the image below to view the video.
“As you reach forward with one hand, accept the advice of those who have gone before you, and in the same manner reach back with the other hand to those that follow you; for life is a fragile chain of experiences held together by love. Take pride in being a strong link in that chain” –Author Unknown
Linda Phelan, the host of our Rhode Island workshop, is the founder of the Healing Co-Op, a very special center dedicated entirely to providing women and their families a supportive space where they may begin their healing process through and beyond cancer. She is cheerful, loving, and kind. Strong, resilient, and compassionate. Dedicated, trusting, and sincere.
After her own diagnosis at the age of 28 in the 80s, it was recommended that she attend a support group. The only one available to Linda convened at the local hospital. Her experience at the meeting left much to be desired. The women were wallowing. The social worker (who herself had never had cancer), was consumed with telling the women what they needed to do and how they needed to feel. Linda felt unsupported and realized that she needed something entirely different. In that meeting was birthed the vision of a nurturing, loving, cancer support center set in a home like environment.
Linda created the Healing Co-Op on the foundation of community. When women and families walk onto the beautiful property, they feel like it’s their place. At the center, all emotions are welcome. There are no agendas, right or wrong ways to be, or people without experience with cancer. It was also founded on the principle that it always be free to everyone that walks through its doors. All funds to run the center come through donations.
When I asked Linda for a poignant story about the center, she shared this one. A few years ago, she asked one of the groups what, if anything, they would like to do within the art program (art is a large component of what the Healing Co-Op offers). This group comprised of 17 women shared something in common; they all had advanced stages of cancer and had experienced a reoccurance of their cancer, some as many as 5 times. One of the women responded, “Theater” and elaborated; Theater because it was a place where they could share their story, their voice. To say what they wanted to say to friends, family, and the community within a container that encouraged honesty and creativity.
Linda wrote the play based on the stories of the 8 women who wished to challenge themselves in this way. With the help and emotional support of their “sisters” in the group, each of the 8 women played themselves and were the stars of their own stories. The process of writing the theatrical production was incredibly healing and beautiful for all involved. Linda’s sister, a Canadian singer/songwriter, wrote the musical score. The play was described as “An open, honest, hysterical and poignant dialog which represents an actual support group meeting of the women”. In the end, the play, titled “Chemo Brain”, was performed on Rhode Island’s largest stage in front of an audience of 1,500. Family, friends, co-workers, and members of the general public all attended to honor this brave group of 8. What a sight that must have been!
Being given a prognosis of just 3 years to live at the young age of 28 while raising two young girls, Linda’s priorities in life shifted and became crystal clear. One of the core principles she embraced was to lead a life that leaves the smallest footprint on the planet possible. Straw bale construction fits that bill for her. Building this straw bale house is a dream come true for Linda, tying in her love for the Earth with cherished childhood memories of spending time in her grandparents’ naturally built home in Germany.
Linda’s 1,200 sqft, one story straw bale house will be run entirely on solar power. There will be a grey water system as well as rain catchment and solar hot water. Its heat source will be wood. Most of the building materials will be from reclaimed wood and locally-harvested and milled lumber. The south facing part of the home will have lots of windows to take advantage of the passive-solar opportunities the land has to offer. Designed by Chris Keefe, this home embodies grace, simplicity and elegance. Linda describes this home as her forever home.
Linda loves the idea of hosting a workshop because she lives and breathes community. It seems only fitting that such an amazing person who has done so much for the greater world, even in the face of her own adversities, would have people come to help build her house. We feel tremendously honored and proud to be a link in the chain of experiences held together by love by bringing a straw bale workshop to her. For every participant that signs up, we will donate $100 to the Healing Co-Op. For more information on how you can help us build Linda’s forever home, please click here.
p.s. Last year alone the Co-Op supported over 1,600 women and their families. If you feel inspired to donate, financial contributions are very welcome. You can click here to read more about the center and to donate.
We want to wish you an amazing, beautiful, fulfilling and peaceful holiday! We feel incredibly grateful to have made so many wonderful friends in this incredible community of straw bale enthusiasts. The experiences we have had with all of you since we started strawbale.com in 2004 have been beyond our wildest hopes.
Just for fun, we went back into our archives and pulled up our very first newsletter ever. Do any of you remember this one?? The newsletter was called “The Innovator” and our first issue went out to 444 people. At the time we were psyched and blown away that there were a few hundred people in the world that were interested in straw bale construction!
We had no idea what was in store for the future of strawbale.com and never did any initial market research to determine if there was even an audience out there (an extremely risky move looking back!). We just kind of went for it because we saw a need for step by step instruction for people to learn how to build their own dream homes.
Our first production was filmed with a $200 video camera. Neither of us had any experience with camera work, editing, producing, etc. We also had never started a web site and knew nothing about internet marketing, or e-commerce. But we were passionate and that fueled the whole process. The right people always showed up at the right time and with a lot of time, effort, support and encouragement it all ligned up. We haven’t looked back since! A lot to be grateful for.
One of the many ways we like to express gratitude to our readers is by offering scholarship spots in all of our workshops. If you have been unable to attend one of our workshops for financial reasons, we hope you’ll apply for a scholarship. We have had an amazing time with our scholarship winners so far and feel that this is an incredibly rewarding program for all parties involved. You will find all of the information and application deadlines here. We look forward to reading the applications!
As promised, here is list of workshops and update on space availability in each.
LESS THAN 1/2 FULL:
This post below was written for us by our friend Scott Allison. As we all know, straw has multiple uses and this is a pretty easy/economical/functional use for bales. This is a quick a simple project that you can do to extend your growing season. The details below are for a simple, what I would call “annual” cold frame. In other words, this would need to be rebuilt each year because it is not plastered and protected from the elements. That said, it could be upgraded with ease to be a permanent structure if that’s what you are after. Here’s what Scott had to share:
As a sustainable builder I have always loved working with natural materials and I myself have a fondness for reusing as much as I can whenever I can. So when my friend and long time client asked me about building a cold frame on the south side of her little urban farm I thought it would make sense to work with straw bales.
The project took me just a few hours to complete and I was working by myself.
First I built what I understand to be a Ben Franklin style foundation with out infill other than a few cross red bricks to keep my spacing. With hindsight I would suggest a few screws and fastening some 2×4 spacers to keep the foundation from falling on its side while placing the bales.
Second I placed the bales side by side. Two high on the north side and a single row on the south. Then I took apart a single bale and stepped the sides down, filling in where I needed to.
Next, I placed wooden spacers on the top of the north and south rows and screwed them into wooden 1×1’s so they would support the poly carbon plastic panels on top. The 1x material can be doweled into the bales to keep it in place and the poly roof attached with roofing screws (with washers) to the 1x runners.
I planted a few broccoli, arugula, lettuce, collard greens, and chives and they all seem really happy. The night that I built the cold frame turned out to be the second frost in our area; however, the temperature inside the cold frame stayed well above freezing. The broccoli is now blooming so I think it’s gonna work pretty well. I intend to place some red brick towers in the north side corners as thermal mass and I imagine a few candles (in coffee cans of course) might go a long way to make for a really warm place to grow food during the winter.
I hope you enjoy the concept and creation,