We have been hanging out to get stuck into some more rendering on the outside walls. Uncharacteristically, we have been receiving lots of rain of late, and the second coat of render on the wall that faces west (where we get most of the rain and wind) has started to degrade. We know that the colder weather isn't the best time to be rendering, but what the hell, we scheduled it for this weekend, the last weekend in Autumn.
Before I go on, let me explain the rendering we are doing. Our third coat of render, which is the final coat, consists of four ingredients: 10 parts clay/sandy soil, 4 parts triple washed sand, 2 parts lime and water. There seems to be as many recipes for render as there are straw bale houses, and it took some trial and error, but we are happy with our finished product. We are happy with it for a few reasons, the first being that the soil we are using has not been processed, and therefore has lots of natural elements to it, such as pebbles and small stones, secondly it is local, and thirdly, we like the finished colour, and haven't needed to add any paint/colouring to the mix.
We add the washed sand to give the render the right consistency (which has also lightened it up), and we add the lime (12-13%) for two reasons, one is to give the render some protection against the weather, and secondly, to make the mix hold together and reduce cracking.
So yesterday we had Mel come over to give us a hand and together we finished the west wall. It was so fantastic to have Mel constantly filling up our buckets with render - she is such an ace render mixer! So as soon as Dylan was alseep I would change into my rendering clothes and get stuck into it, until he awoke, when i would do my 'super-hero' type costume change into clean clothes (so I wouldn't get render all over our boy) and Dylan and I would play and hang out until sleep time again. Luckily he sleeps well, so I got to have a good go at rendering both days. I am like a bull at a gate, as I never know how much time I am going to have to render, and I LOVE it! It's hard to explain, it really is so satisfying, and I find it very enjoyable.
So, the process is: we wet the walls to be rendered, we mix the render in the concrete mixer, then transfer it into buckets and apply it to the wall with a trowel. Then we go over it again with the trowel to smooth out any holes and rough bits, and lastly we sponge the walls in a circular motion once or twice to give it that lovely finish. It's amazing what a damp/wet bit of car washing sponge can do to a rendered wall. The thing about rendering in colder weather is that the sponging cannot be done until quite a while after the render has been applied, as the render needs to have dried off a little before it is ready to sponge.
Despite the ominous clouds both days, we were not impeded by rain, which was fantastic. The crappy weather did not deter Mel from coming out to render with us for a second day today (yes, she is an absolute legend, we are very aware of this!), nor did it deter Aygun (another legendary serial helper) and Bruce (first timer) from coming to help today, yay! So we got into the highest and hardest to get to part of the house, the east end. Between us we rendered around 90% of the walls on the east sde, which is a fantastic feat. So in 4 days total of external wall rendering, we have rendered the west end, another side of the house (where bathroom and bedroom is) some of the southern wall, and almost all of the east wall.
Faaaaantastic. And again, we are completely humbled by the extraordinary contribution from our friends.