What is The Cob Studio?
A bee hive of activity located in a hand sculpted earthen building with a living roof in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Why is it called Cob?
Cob, the Old English word for loaf is the name given to an ancient form of building with a wet mix of clay, sand and straw –just like adobe but skipping the brick making step, the wet stuff is just piled up to make walls, about two feet thick. This method has been used on almost every continent in every age. The structures are often described as thousand year buildings.
What goes on at the Cob Studio?
- Clay, Crafts, Cob Building, Nourishment, Health and Self Development
- People of all ages, with or without prior experience. Even if you were told by someone anytime in your life that you aren’t creative and shouldn’t pursue anything artistic.
- Grown-ups seeking health and balance in their lives.
- Families looking for wholesome activities.
- Home schoolers or after schoolers.
How did this all come about?
Hi I’m Cara Graver. I am an artist in a variety of media. Back in 2002 I found out about cob building and was thrilled to discover that this was a way I could create a sculpture large enough for myself to fit inside of, and if I made it big enough I’d have indoor space for classes.
The method was simple as I learned from my reading but I was afraid to start without some experience so I went to Oregon that summer when I was 55 to the North American School of Natural Building where I lived in my tiny tent on a site with no electricity or running water for 6 weeks with 8 other, very much younger, future cobbers.
Fast forwarding, I started my studio the next spring and about 4 years later I was finished, doing my work and holding classes in what came to be known as the Cob Studio.
While I was building I held cobbing parties now and then, teaching people how to build and getting some extra height in the process. Everybody went away glowing with the idea that it is possible for an ordinary person to build a building out of next to nothing, on their own. Empowerment! It is clear that this one simple activity reconnects us with nature and our own resourcefulness at the same time.
Next to nothing? All of the windows and doors came out of dumpsters, or from the side of the road and curbside in Philly. The clay came from our neighbors who were building a beautiful, enormous house out of logs, creating an abundant pile of unwanted heavy clay soil. The plaster for finishing (still a mix of the same ingredinets but more refined) came from a housing development nearby where they were daily uncovering the most beautiful veins of different colored clays.
Building went faster after I traded my day job of nearly 20 years as a teacher in Waldorf and Quaker schools, for a short commute to the back yard. I spent the next school year on 16 foot high scaffolding throwing wet cob up into big tubs with a pitchfork. In the fall of the following year I opened the doors to a magical place where people have been heard to say they feel something different as they come to safely explore their own voices and cultivate a new dexterity.
See for yourself. Arrange to come visit, take a tour, have tea, browse the shop, come to a class!