I have been wanting to write about the Colorado workshop since the day I got home, but have been so busy this season with consulting, my own projects, and life in general, that I’m just now finding time to sit down and get this blog post done. Sorry for the delay! The good news is that the experience of this week will last a lifetime, so time is really not that relevant to sharing the story.
To start, I have to go back a year, because that’s when this workshop was supposed to happen originally. As we have all likely experienced, life gets in the way sometimes. In this case, the impact of COVID on material costs hit this project like a sledgehammer (or a bale persuader!). The entire design had to be reimagined in order to fit the budget. There was no way the hosts, Ken and Paul, would be able to make the necessary changes in time to move forward with the existing dates. As such, we chose to be flexible and postpone. I never take the decision to postpone a workshop lightly. I know it impacts everyone who is registered for the class, as well as the hosts, and my family. It was, however, the kind and gentle thing to do. I was grateful to all of the registered participants who so graciously understood the situation. So, Ken and Paul went to work on the redesign with the help of their builder Dave Kaplan from Elevated Design – Build. We rescheduled for the following year (this past July) and we moved forward to make a dream come true.
Two Great Colorado Resources
I want to give a specific shout out to Dave at Elevated Design – Build. He was a pleasure to work with during the Colorado workshop. Ken and Paul have both shared their gratitude for him as well. They have talked highly of him throughout the entire process from redesign to this very day. He has a steady energy that helps instill confidence in the process for the owners. It also removes the unnecessary panic that so many builders cram into the experience for some reason. He was helpful, clear, and fun to be around. I am confident in my recommendation of him for your project. You can reach him through the website linked above or on his phone at 970.682.8363. Let him know that you heard about him from me. I always like recommending builders I believe in and I want them to know that I believe in them. No, I don’t get any compensation for making the recommendation, so don’t worry about that.
The other resource that I want to share is Dave Swinger from Little Salt Wash Straw and Hay. He provides a high quality, construction grade straw bale and he understands the needs of bale builders when it comes to the bale itself. You can reach him at 970.778.5925. I have worked with him on several projects across Colorado and have always been very pleased with his bale quality. He even attended one of my straw bale workshops several years ago because he wanted to fully understand what we as builders are looking for in bale quality!
The Colorado Workshop Experience
The week itself was full of great people, hard work, storytelling, music, connection, and spinning wool! Yes, spinning wool. The majority of us had no idea how to do that of course, but it’s a passion of the hosts and one of the participants as well. She even brought her own gear with her. So whereas a “normal” evening at a straw bale workshop includes music, and connection, we added the meditation of spinning wheels to this week. It was honestly really cool and indeed a meditation of sorts. The reality of every evening was a good fire, good friends, and great conversations. The winds of Wyoming (Wyoming is just over the hill) often messed with us for a while but typically settled down enough to allow us to enjoy a campfire: such a magical experience. For those of you who have not sat around a fire in a while, I highly recommend it.
As much as we had time to relax around the spinning of wool or the crackle of a fire, we also worked really hard and made excellent progress on the build. After all, I’m sure Ken and Paul would have loved to just hang out with us, but we were at the Colorado workshop for a reason! The group came together to create something beautiful, that’s for sure. They learned to stack, shape, and retie bales. They learned to prep the structure for plaster, install electrical, add supports for cabinets, and so much more. In the end, we got to get dirty with plaster too: always a crowd pleaser!
I’m grateful to the hosts, Ken and Paul, to Dave from Elevated Design – Build, the amazing kitchen crew who prepared such incredible food for us all week (AND even washed our dishes for us!), and to the participants of the Colorado workshop. It was a culmination of amazing people doing amazing work to create…you guessed it, an amazing home that will inspire those who live in or visit it for generations to come.
We were all invited to write something on the framing of the home; to leave a bit of ourselves behind in order to bless the house and its inhabitants. I’ll leave you with one such message here.