This Saturday, May 5th, we’re putting on a papercrete greenhouse building workshop In conjunction with Homegrown New Mexico. If you’re thinking paper whodiewaha? Check out these posts on papercrete where I go over what it is, how to make papercrete blocks and how to make your own papercrete mixer.
The greenhouse has been a work in progress for the past
three four years. Every year around plant starting time I’m kicking myself for not finishing it. I’ll bet we get a bunch done this weekend though. Hopefully the momentum will carry forward and the greenhouse will get finished this year. » » »
Growing vegetables is a big part of our spring and summer around here. We like to grow our own food as much as we can. Once you start you get spoiled. The produce in the grocery store, while it looks good, pales in comparison when it comes to flavor and freshness. We just had green beans last night from the store. They looked great. The taste?….Meh…..
Don’t get me started on Whole
Foods Paycheck either. You don’t really save money gardening unless you happen to shop there. I don’t know why they have all those buttons on their cash registers since it seems that they simply take the number of items you picked out and multiply it by $20.
Back to gardening… » » »
If you’re new to this series this is a segment of a long story about how we bought a yurt. It was ravaged by our climate and started to die. After some deliberation we decided it should be reborn in papercrete. Check out the links for the back story. Up to speed? Great. Moving on….
When we last left the yurt the walls were built and there was a start at getting a roof designed and constructed. My sister Heidi had been instrumental in getting enthusiasm going for the project again. We think she was ready to stay in a guest house instead of on the couch when she came to visit. » » »
When we last left the yurt it was still standing but was decaying and in serious need of repair. The outer weatherproof cover had deteriorated again and the smell of mildew was pervasive. The mice were ransacking the interior and the flooring was starting to rot. The yurt needed help and lots of it. For a while (quite a while) we just let it sit while we considered a strategy to deal with all of the yurt’s needs.
The first step was to take it down before it deteriorated any further. In the spring of 2008 Molly and I disassembled the yurt and packed it up. Most of the platform and the outer covering went to the dump. Now we just needed a home for the rest. Storing a building sized tent as well as the furnishings inside of it was a challenge but we managed to shoehorn it all into our various other outbuildings.
Molly: It was a sad day when we took it down. It had been this thing of beauty and now it was…not.
Mike: Yeah, one more face lift was not going to recapture her lost loveliness. It was just going to make her look permanently surprised. » » »
For those of you not in the know Uppercase is an art magazine published out of Canada. We found out about it when Molly’s lovely and talented Canadian friend Kirstie mailed her one of their magazines. We were both struck by what a beautiful magazine it was. The quality is high and the articles are inspiring.
We wrote the editor and asked how we could be part of this community of other artists. She wrote back with an idea. Her winter issue was all about paper. She’d love an article on Mike’s papercrete! Done!
You can find us in issue #12:
» » »
Never heard of it? Go here.
Up to speed?
Great, Let’s get going.
Block molds (mine are made from 2x6s and scrap siding)
Paper (used of course)
Shredded plastic (if you want)
95 lb bag of cement (cement not concrete- no rocks or sand in the mix) » » »
There is a lot to love about papercrete as a building material. It’s made out of readily accessible and inexpensive materials: water, used paper and cement. To make papercrete you have to be able to grind up lots and lots of paper. In order to do that you need a mixer capable of shredding paper. A regular cement mixer won’t shred paper it will just stir it around. Luckily for us a guy by the name of Mike McCain invented a papercrete mixer that you tow behind a truck.
The plywood top looked good but it didn't work that well
The McCain mixer is sheer genius in its backyard engineering brilliance and simplicity. It consists of a trailer made from a truck rear axle with a stock tank mounted on it. The axle is rotated up 90 degrees so that the end where the drive-shaft would normally attach is sticking up through the bottom of the tank. A lawn mower blade is mounted on the differential stub so that as the trailer is towed it turns the lawnmower blade creating a giant blender. » » »
Papercrete?? What’s that??
That’s the response I always get when I’m describing my favorite building material. Not surprising since it occupies a spot in that backwater known as ‘alternative building materials’. Papercrete is just what it sounds like actually. It’s concrete made with paper. I tell people to think of it as industrial paper mache. It’s inexpensive to make, amazingly sturdy, lightweight and insulating. » » »