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

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.

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

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.

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

Building With Hempcrete (hemp-lime): Essential Tips For The Beginner (Part 2)

Using a nail float to soften a hempcrete corner 10 days after casting.

Alex Sparrow walks us through a detailed explanation how to build hempcrete walls in part two of this series

Why Workshops Work

Montana 2013 Group Photo

Andrew Morrison shares his wisdom about workshops and why they are such a success for him and the participants

Getting Grounded on an Adobe Floor

The finished floor

The first article in a two-set series about adobe floors. Sigi Koko begins with why we want them and in the next issue will walk us through how to install them

Kyomigaki / Otsumigaki Polished Earth-Lime Finish

Kyomigaki earth-lime finish

Kyle Holzhueter brings us the most detailed explanation we have ever had of a plastering technique. This one is of a fine Japanese finish.

Natural Building in Nicaragua


Liz Johndrow introduces us to her activism through natural building in Nicaragua. This is the beginning of more articles about her work in Central America.

How Clay Plaster Might Save the World

Simple ball of dirt. A simple ball of mud could revolutionize the building world. (Daniel Earle)

Chris Magwood brings us an enlightened view on a simple, abundant material with all of the right qualities

Brewing a Brewery

straw clay brewery

Our featured project in issue #65 is of a brewery in Oregon using straw-clay walls brought to you by Lydia Doleman

Issue #64 (Summer 2014)


Issue #64 Includes: – Hempcrete – Essential Tips for the Beginner (Part 1) – Rediscovering Lime in Costa Rica – Jules Ferry Residence – Benefits of Using Welded Wire Mesh – More Straw Building in Japan – Light Clay-Straw Mountain Home – Bale Orientation Survey Results