Google+ The Last Straw Journal - The International Journal of Straw Bale and Natural Building

Financing and Insurance Surveys

The Living Farm

If you own a straw bale building, or any natural building for that matter, please take a moment and share your experiences on these sometimes sticky topics.

Current Issue (#66), Winter 2015


In this issue:

  • BuildWell Library Launch
  • Building Monitoring for Straw Bale Walls
  • Adobe Floors – Part 2
  • Polished Tosa Shikkui
  • Choosing a Plaster System
  • Tape vs. Mesh
  • Book Reviews
  • …and more.

Clay Culture: Plasters, Paints and Preservation (Book Review)

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Carole Crews leads us on a journey through the parts of our home made with earth and water, but also tells an important story along the way.

A Straw-Cell Wall System

Roof craned onto stud walls (Photo courtesy of Ben Bowman)

A review of the Straw-Cell wall system by Chris Magwood brings us up to speed with its benefits

Building Monitoring for Straw Bale Buildings, Part 2

Condensation Sensor (Courtesy Structure Monitoring Technology)

The second part of this article asks the questions you need to know when designing a monitoring system.

A South Carolina Architect’s Journey to Natural Building & Rammed Earth

cross workshop 2

April Magill shares her journey into natural building and what she is currently working on.

Straw Bale in Bali


We get a glimpse into the natural building world of Bali through Jeni Kardinal who has brought the building technique to the island.

2016 International Straw Building Conference (ISBC)

Welcome to NZ!!!

The upcoming International Straw Builders Conference (ISBC) will be held in Methven, New Zealand in March of 2016.

Pay Attention to Your Sand

Plaster sand

Andrew Morrison helps us understand how to properly choose the sand for your plaster.

Straw Bale in Germany

The completed Center for Sustainable Building in Verden, Germany

The upcoming European Strawbale Gathering is indicative of the activity on that continet, and Germany is no exception

Tips for Staying Calm When Building

Reduced stress is the goal

Identifying sources of stress and remaining calm during you project is as valuable on natural building projects as conventional ones

Update on Straw Bale Building in Pakistan

The final coat of lime wash is applied to the Multi-Gardens house

Darcy Donovan updates us on her progress of building bale structures in Pakistan through PAKSAB

Choosing a Plaster System for Your Straw Bale House

Plaster test patches

Jame Henderson of Henderson Clayworks shares his knowledge of bale wall plaster systems and how to differentiate the most important aspects of each

Tape Versus Mesh for Straw Bale Plastering

Door jamb before...

Chris Magwood reviews a new product, which is a tape material used at joints between two materials for plaster reinforcing

Adobe Mejorado (Adobe Made Better)

14x14x4 inch bricks

In the second article of her series, Liz Johndrow teaches us about Adobe Mejorado, or adobe made better

Building Monitoring for Straw Bale Buildings, Part 1

Building monitoring helps us to understand how the invisible elements of heat and moisture move through our buildings. This IR image of a straw bale building shows likely moisture spotting in the exterior plaster, as revealed by a difference in surface temperature
(photo courtesy of  Brad Cook)

In the first of a two part series article, Jacob Deva Racusin explains the differences in monitors for your walls. This is “must know” information for every builder and owner.

Polished Tosa Shikkui

Compression with polished Jigane

Kyle Holzhueter once again dazzles us with his detailed explanation of another water resistant natural finish using lime

BuildWell Library is launched!


The Buildwell Library is now officially launched as a repository of technical information related to natural building.

Strawbale and Earth Builders Converge on Adelaide (AUSBALE)

sbale Strawbale Building Conference Organisers.  Gerald Wittmann, Oreste Farrugia, Lance Kairl, Christine Farrugia, Scott Goldie, Bohdan Dorniak.  Courtesy of John Connors

The 2014 Ausbale Strawbale Conference was held in Adelaide, Australia in September. See what you missed…

Shelter (Book Review)

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Shelter is about the journey of building a home yourself, and sharing a dream that brings natural building home