Posts Tagged ‘straw bale’

So here we are again. The summer is giving in to the spring and we are finding ourselves with some sunshine on our backs and tools in our belts. We can shed the insulated jumpers and slip into something a little bit more comfortable like a straw hat.

On the sill

We can take breaks outside.

Tori sitting amongst the infused mushroom logs

On one of these sunny days, our glass wine bottles cast a decorative light around the “sunflower window.”

Sunflower Window

Sometimes we get down to business and play wack-a-mole.


But seriously, the dacha crew whistles while it works and is taking advantage of this weather to prepare for another productive season.


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Here is our video entry into the Pay It Forward Contest, held by our local Alternatives Federal Credit Union.

Alternatives gave out ten dollars to whoever wanted it, and those people were supposed to give it to someone else in the community, an organization or an individual.Then, the giver of the ten dollars is encouraged to make a video or write an essay about their recipient, and in it illustrate what they can do with it that would benefit the community. Afterwards! A committee at Alternatives picks ten or so videos they like the best, and set them loose into the public, where anyone can vote on which entry they think should get the grand prize-oh- $500.

Taking advantage of some beautiful footage our friend Shira took of us, plus friends, plastering the straw bale cottage, I put together this doo-hickey.

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Since our straw bale shed has been upgraded to the “Winter Palace,” it is time to plaster the structure and to fossilize our work for future archeological findings. We put on our clay covered uniforms and head out to work. Our main sources of power for mixing the sand, straw and clay are our hands and feet. And to prove that there really is straw under all those layers of plaster, we built a truth window.

The Truth Window

The Truth Window


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Filmed in September 2008, edited some time later by Lily G, and myself. Please enjoy, “Frame by Frame” the framing of our straw bale cottage. This short film is a moving after school special about some folk who engage on a journey of building a stick frame only to find themselves doing just that.

Next to come: Winter Palace Pt 5- Stacking Straw Bricks and Goofing Around, a thrilling drama showing the real life context around the building of straw bale walls.

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Danila here, bringing you an update on our fabulous little cottage. While the rest of our crew is wintering in sunny California, Joe and I have been working on the toolshed-turned-guest house nearly every day, trudging through mud, ice, snow and the joy of building stuff with our hands.

Since November, we have made wonderful progress, and the little building has really come together. We’ve put in windows and doors, plugged holes in the walls, and have gotten to a point where someone could stay in the cottage without freezing!

So without any further ado, on to the photos! Here’s what the “toolshed” looked like in early November, when we were just getting the straw bale walls up:



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Here is pt 2, just like I promised.  Please enjoy, it took a second to edit.  More on the way in future.  Perhaps as it gets so cold in Ithaca that I can’t go outside, I will pump these out faster.  For now we are still building, taking classes, making friends and being mad busy.  This week we’re putting up the roof. Hoorah!

Love Lea

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This is pt 1 of our tool shed building adventure, shot way back in August, when the tool shed still aspired to be a tool shed. Eventually, we over built so that we began to feel bad about calling it a tool shed, and started referring to it as a palace.

Being the Russians that some of us are, and having a dear friend Mr. Winter, whose hard work has been so helpful, we decided to call it the Winter Palace. One day, I hope we will use it as an art studio, or a guest cottage, or something else entirely.

Today, more than two months have passed since Lily shot this, and in reality we are up to part 6 or 7. All the footage will eventually be imported, edited, exported, uploaded and embedded, even if it takes all winter.

Thanks for everyone’s support, please enjoy pt 1 and pt 2 soon to come.

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