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American Clay Classes at The Arch Offers More Than Technique

The other day a woman that had taken one of our full day American Clay workshops came by to pick up her 16th bag of clay for her home studio project. Strong, petite, and energetic,  her comment to us was: ” I think I’m pretty good at it!”.  “I’ll never go back to paint!”. ” I love it!”

Not everyone chooses to cover as much area as this woman,  but many love it so much that they want it everywhere.  Why not? It’s beautiful, it’s quiet, it’s moisture controlling- naturally taking in humidity breathing and breathing it out so you won’t have  mold issues, and it offers a depth unlike  that of paint. American-Clay-Room-Scene-detailbdsc_0849-copy7The finish options and pigment selections are many. We have customers wanting the most rustic of applications, to installations in contemporary homes. Older bungalows suffering from holds, cracks and years of wear can be repaired with a beautiful fresh finish of clay and has provided a remedy to otherwise costly plastering techniques.  Clay can go over a number of substrates but you should ask questions first so that you have the best installation possible. This is where a class might be helpful, if not for yourself, perhaps you might be able to encourage a contractor you have hired to take our class.

Chemically sensitive people have come in looking for American Clay because of it’s natural healthy qualities.

“It’s clean and I’ve had no issues with air quality”, an Asheville resident shared.  She added,  “I don’t have to worry about mold either, which is so important and a big relief to me”.

I’ve shared these images before, but here are a few images showing how American Clay is humidity buffering. Click on any image to read.

Hummidity Buffering AC humidity 3 AChumidity1 AChumidity2

If a large project isn’t  something you want to start with,  perhaps it’s time to include American Clay in a bedroom or add some comfort to a dining area,  or possibly consider an accent wall.

American-Clay-Room-Scene-Watermark-31-MD

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A class is a great way to learn all about the full range of products.   Shown here are some photos that show class members experiencing different clay types and techniques. Working on corners, creating textures, burnishing the smoothest clay (Porcelina), are just a few examples of what we cover in a full day class. Participants have the opportunity to apply all stages of the process.

DSC_0113 (1128 x 748)

Half day classes are helpful as well, especially if you have a smaller project in mind, but if you want to try your hand at larger expanses and learn some additional techniques with more in-depth discussions a full day class is recommended.

Visit our American Clay gallery on our website to see installations we have completed  as well as some additional images from American Clay’s gallery and some customer work.

American Clay lists all classes on their website. If you don’t see a convenient date for a class at The Arch, just give us a call. We usually have additional dates in mind or we haven’t posted them yet.  WORKSHOP SCHEDULE 

In addition, click here to learn more about finishing services we provide.dsc_0821-copy8

Mica Village open-air lobby with American Clay Loma clay

Mica Village open-air lobby with American Clay Loma clay. No problem with outside temperatures

Taking a class points participants to their favorite finish and ultimately will help them create the look they want. If you don’t want to do the project yourself and prefer The Arch do the installation, just let us know and we’ll provide an estimate and answer any questions you have.

Call us today! 828 253 5455 or visit our contact page and visit our showroom.

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American Clay’s Humidity Buffering Qualities Contributes to Healthy Air Quality From Bathrooms to Wine Cellars

September 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The growing interest and importance of air quality continues to reinforce  our great feeling about American Clay Earth Plaster. We are confident that it is good for us and the air we breathe!  There are some interesting advantages that American Clay offers to those wanting  more consistent humidity levels and the reduction of potential mold and mildew, as well as a quieter space.

Arlington VA Clay application by Roxanne. A welcoming American Clay finish provides benefits for humidity control or "buffering".

From personal experience we have lived with clay plaster in our own home and have experience with a broad variety of applications and placement of clay.  We have American Clay plaster in a kitchen/dining area, sun room, bedroom and in two bathrooms.  We’ve enjoyed the benefits the clay provides in every space and have witnessed, felt, and breathed in it’s  ability to absorb  and release water vapor when high levels of humidity are present without a spec of mildew appearing anywhere -EVER! What might seem to be a vulnerable location is where we applied clay along the top 18″ above the tiled walls in two shower areas but absolutely no problems have resulted- instead it benefits these areas.  In contrast,  if a  painted wall experiences high levels of humidity such as in a bathroom the surface will eventually develop condensation from water vapor creating an environment favorable for mold and mildew growth.  Another more extreme experience that we had was with several large3’x6′ foot display panels we made and applied with clay plaster for an expo.  After a three day event we drove home and with the onset of a rain storm we rushed the panels into our (less than perfect) garage several years ago.  We had an unfortunate heavy rain that evening that ultimately flowed into the area where these panels were situated.The panels were trimmed  with wood for presentation purposes. After about a week we noticed a mold made its way up the wood strips  but did not touch the clay. Not a spec!  The mildew completely avoided the clay.  If ever conditions were ripe for mildew this was it.  We cleaned up the wood and put them in dry storage and years later they still have no mold on them. (I wish I had taken a photo).    The following diagrams portray how American Clay provides humidity buffering in your home or business.  (Click on diagrams to enlarge text).

Powder Room at CIEL with American Clay, Porcelina, Chesapeake Bay, Designer Talli Roberts

As noted in this last image, the more clay there is in a given space the greater the humidity buffering. We called a few customers that have applied the clay in wine cellars  as this is an excellent application choice to assist in maintaining a consistent humidity so critical in a wine cellar.

Beautiful wine cellar with American Clay walls

In reading about climate control in wine cellars, efforts must be made to maintain a certain temperature as well as humidity level.

Hey, where's the wine? Jim- applied clay in wine cellar in CIEL residence

If the humidity rises above 70% I have read that this is when the potential for mildew on the corks can develop which may create a problem for the wine.

Prevent mold on corks with proper humidity control

There are several benefits when using the American Clay plaster- it assists in maintaining consistent humidity levels, assists in preventing mold and mildew, helps purify the air which is also important, and it is beautiful!  We asked several customers how their wine cellars are doing after the applying the clay years earlier.

One of our customers shared that he has had no problems and added that he also selected the clay for the old world look. Shown here are two other wine cellars.  Most of the wine cellars include applications on the ceiling contributing to humidity buffering benefits.

Mica Village open-air lobby with American Clay. A welcoming finish for a welcoming lobby

Lastly, I  have shared this open-air  lobby area before, but is a true testament that the humidity does not bother it. The benefits of American Clay go well beyond those mentioned here; in fact they are nothing short of amazing!

Give us a call anytime to discuss your project.

Interesting article: The 10 Most Common Wine Cellar Problems and How to Overcome Them

Click here for a  humidity demonstration done by American Clay.

Prevent Your Deck From Screaming: Help! I’m Thirsty!

Everything Looks so much better with a maintained, nicely finished deck

It’s funny how  every time you have a new product or personal interest, you start noticing that very product seemingly everywhere. You know the feeling; if you’re shopping for cars, you’ll start seeing the same model everywhere and certainly the blue ones. Whether you’re shopping for a new roof, in the market for a bike, or you’re looking at what color to re-finish something, you selectively notice just these objects, colors, and styles everywhere you look.

Deck Cleaning Services available at The ARCH

Well, it has been this way with decks and other outdoor wood surfaces for The ARCH.  It’s seems that we want to breathe new life into old, cracking, (deteriorating in many cases)  wood surfaces. They seem to be everywhere!

What a difference just cleaning it makes. Next comes the finish

So much wood out there is  thirsty for both attention and a new finish! Give the wood a drink I say!

Before cleaning! Dirty and slippery with mildew

One of my daughters  was visiting Asheville this weekend looking at houses to rent and several places we looked at seem to keep up the interiors, but many of the exteriors and decks needed a great deal of attention.

Investing in maintenance and finishes is important. The deck and all that surrounds the house definitely influences the person looking for a new place.

Finish helps protect feet as well as the wood

In need of Vermont Natural Poly Whey exterior finish

If the wood is maintained the renter or seller may actually make the sale, children may not need shoes every time they walk across a sorry-looking deck, years could be added to the life of a house  exterior, and, if someone would only notice,the garden bench might actually make it another decade.

Autumn Red Exterior Finish

Vermont Natural Coatings not only provides protection, durability, and beauty, but it’s healthy, non-toxic and so easy to apply.

Healthy finish required for Health Food bins

I read that a health food store coated vegetable boxes with a Vermont Natural Coatings finish and they’re loving the product because it is non-toxic as well as durable. Shown here are a few projects showing some happy decks and happier homeowners.

Hopefully, I’ll start noticing the details of islands and the varying shades of blue in the ocean!

For more information about Vermont Natural Coatings exterior, flooring and furniture finishes click here.

New Exterior color

New color just in! Exterior Finish Barn Red

All Vermont Natural Coatings products are available at The ARCH.  We also offer deck cleaning service.Free estimates in the Asheville area.

Natural Hydraulic Lime – Creates Old-World finish That is a Perfect Finish Selection for Wood-Fired Ovens, Foundations, and Other Masonry Projects

June 21, 2011 1 comment

Many buildings over 100, even thousands years old built with Natural Lime, sand and pigment exemplify sustainability

The ARCH, known in part for it’s natural finish options, has recently gained more experience with a Natural Hydraulic Lime finish product that we offer.  Jim Erskine’s masonry experience spans thirty plus years, and as with most masons, his experience over the years has been primarily with Portland Cement products.  Since  2004 Jim began working with American Clay’s natural interior earth plasters and has since become a strong advocate for all natural finish products.  We’ve learned  Natural Hydraulic Lime is retaking its place on  historic masonry structures, and it is of increasing interest for  a wide range of masonry applications.  Recently we’ve enjoyed two applications on Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens as well as a residential wall foundation.  We’re thrilled with the more natural look, as it takes on the nuances of color from the sunlight of the day and we know it will improve with age and develop a character unlike a traditional cement stucco.

Limeworks products

Not pretending to be an expert on the properties of all the St Astier’s product options I can point you to a Chicago Tribune/ Washington Post interview with Andy deGruchy, president of Limeworks.US  since 2001 and masonry conservation specialist for over 25 years.

DGM Color Kit for Ecologic Lime Mortar prepared with NHL and sand

You’ll learn the difference between hydrated lime and natural hydraulic lime among other interesting historical aspects and views within the construction industry as they relate to lime products. Jim and I first met Andy here in Asheville, as he was demonstrating the application of Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) products over the Hemp Technologies Hempcrete wall sections, of which we have a wall portion displayed in our showroom. NHL breathes with wall systems as they should, not trapping the moisture into cracks and crevices that are a result of concrete construction over time, weakening the structure. Natural Hydraulic Lime is found on some of the oldest historic structures on this earth.  Featured here are a few photos from three recent projects . The first being a wood-fired oven of Rich and Kelly Lytle of North Asheville.

Lytle Residence of Asheville with Natural Hydraulic Lime plaster

This is a Forno Bravo Casa2G90 oven kit, it has high heat refractory cement applied to the joints, high heat retention insulation, lathe, mortar mix, two coats of Ecologic Lime (which is a pre-blended Natural Hydraulic lime including the sand and pigment).  The oven foundation work, oven assembly, oven finishes are all completed by Jim and Tom Silver. The attractive natural stonework is by local stone craftsman David Reed.  The second oven, is our  “slow but sure  progress” on our own oven (still awaiting tile for the arch, counter surfaces and lower stonework).

Oven in progress. Natural Hydraulic Lime- still drying

We chose to add American Clay pigment – two  color packs of Palomino Valley pigments to one bag of NHL 3.5 as a final coat to the process.

Burlap is used to retain the moisture while the St Astier pure and Natural Hydraulic Lime dries.

Lastly, the foundation photos are for a home in the area. Covering a block wall,

Block wall before application

a coat of NHL 3.5 was applied, then the Ecologic pre-blended Natural hydraulic lime.

The appearance is much more natural and appealing than cement stucco. As with the other projects it will continue to harden over the months to come.

Natural Hydraulic Lime finish

For more information on these products as well as natural lime paints, give us a call at The ARCH at 828 253 5455.

You can also look over www.limeworks.us for more information. A discount is provided to buyers if you use The ARCH code.   Give us a call and we’ll gladly provide you with information as well as our code for a product discount.

Application over block foundation wall with NHL 3.5 and Ecologic DGM100

American Clay Workshops – Take it From The Pro- It’s Always Worth it!

American Clay Earth Plaster is a very user-friendly product. You don’t have a time crunch as with lime plasters to consider, it’s healthy to be around, and it’s a pleasant natural product to work with. May we suggest however, that if you involve yourself in an informative (and fun) workshop the learning curve becomes even  smoooooother!

Your may find that your clay stays on the hawk better, you’re likely to have a better feel for the ideal thickness of each layer, you’ll know how to approach  working corners and edges, and you’ll learn from others in the group.  Did I mention- the coffee is great too?!

Everyone is welcome- from novice to professionals and it is affordable! Like with any new product the sharing process between everyone, (and this most certainly includes professionals  in some type of finish application trade), – we learn from each other and lots of questions get answered.Room to play

Jim Erskine,  instructor of  the classes held at The ARCH in Asheville, is an “American Clay trained applicator” as well as a mason by trade.  He has applied well over 50,000sf of clay and in many different settings. With more than a bit of experience  he has had his share of trouble shooting  which makes for a great instructor as he’s likely to have more answers for all kinds of applications.  (Always helpful).

Everyone  works with the application of a first coat, then a second coat, compression of the clay, then we touch on working corners, edges, and repairs.

Jim’s experience doesn’t come from just a single large job- he has worked with and learned from a wide variety of applications such as: all kinds of homes, commercial spaces, historical homes, bathroom ceilings, conference room walls, educational facilities, high walls, tight spaces, stairwells, wine cellars, kitchens, new construction, old construction, chimney chases, applications over brick, over block, over repaired plaster, over dry wall, over Hempcrete, along stone edges, on curvy walls, from rustic settings to contemporary, for happy-go-lucky customers to the more “selective” customer- and the list goes on. He’s worked solo, with other applicators, teamed up with customers or other professionals.

Mastering the first coat

Confidence building!

For several years The ARCH has held morning workshops once a month. The half-day workshop is great to learn all the basics, better understand the products, get your hands into it, gain a little extra confidence, and it’s an opportunity to ask a LOT of questions. Most of all participants develop a passion and understanding for clay as a fabulous wall finish. It lasts, it’s breathing, it’s healthy, it feels good, it contributes to LEED points, and it has DEPTH! (My favorite descriptive word is DEPTH!) unlike flat finishes such as paint, clay has a depth. Paint has no “doorway of interest” like clay. In the workshop Jim discusses the different clay types, the new products including Up& EZ which, when added to the clay, can be rolled on and troweled out, he shares examples of samples and walls within the showroom, demonstrates the walls within the showroom, demonstrates the mixing process of the clay and pigment, demonstrates trowel use, how to get a nice consistency with the clay, and much more.

Jim discussing technique with applicators

Finally there’s time to play with different finishes and techniques.  It’s an easy going product! Easy to apply, pleasant to be around, great to live with.

Cleaning off the hawk. Natural and safe

A customer was  in the other day that had taken a class a couple of years ago and  is about to begin a second home project with an artistic lime putty wash finish. He shared that he  occasionally goes around misting his walls  with a fine mist of water just to smell the wonderful earthy aroma that when hydrated slightly will evaporate right back into the air.  Oops, he “overshot spraying his plants” – just a pleasant reminder to do it again! Ah, a guy that uses all of his senses.

CLASS INFO:
Monthly 2.5 hour class:                                                                                                             To sign up for our monthly class at The ARCH call us directly at 828 253 5455 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            828 253 5455      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or  email us at: cmsilver@thearchnc.com. Class details listed on American Clay’s workshop schedule   Cost: 50.00 per person.  Western North Carolina Green Building Council members take 10% off.
Full day class:                                                                                                                              With enough participants we can arrange a full-day class.  Look for future postings of this class. If we don’t have one scheduled and you’d like a full day class- call us and it’s our motivator to arrange this class. Cost will be 125.00.
Artistic application workshop coming this Fall. Available to those that have previously worked with American Clay.
Professional 2 day class. Cost 500.00. To be arranged based on interest level. This class is for those interested in becoming a trained applicator, or adding it to your professional offerings.  Call us!

Hand Finished, Hand Made, Brings Details Together For Small Bathroom

Handmade tiles, cast bronze switchplate, American Clay plaster

Waiting for the details you like for a room is well worth it.  So often it is evident that a room is “rushed” with whatever the “deciding forces” gather together just to have it all finished. That “hurry  up and finish attitude” often lacks a little vision. To me, it’s worth waiting on something that you know you are going to like and ENJOY!

Take the tiles in this small bathroom for example. They were selected to compliment the clay walls and woodwork which tied together the entire vanity area in a pleasant way.

  The room has a lovely American Clay finish (Clay type:Loma, pigment- Amber Grain).

It is a joy to live with – as it breathes with the humidity beautifully.  The mirror had been positioned on a “temporary” wood brace, just waiting for it’s friendly art tile to arrive one day.

Well, the tile recently arrived, as we ordered from one of the talented artists at The ARCH.

Detail

 We simply drew a line in the clay, scraped off with a scraper the area where the tile would fit within.

Removing clay in area to be tiled. Easy!

We taped off a few areas and installed the tiles.  Any slight touch ups in the clay can be made with the original clay- just re-hydrate what came off the wall(!), or we will use some from a container saved from the original application.

So there you have it, a small area revitalized where  all the natural elements work together.

Newsletter featuring this installation: May Newsletter 2011

Available at The ARCH:

American Clay plaster, application services

Knob detail on the cabinet by Notting Hill

Switchplate in cast bronze

Soy candles, plantlife soap

“Beauty in the Glaze” Blog – more on tiles featured.

Asheville and Surrounding Mountains Inspire American Clay Colors at The ARCH

Cades Cove Mist Inspires Green

American Clay has a beautiful palette of colors to choose from of which we have been happily working with since 2004 and The ARCH stocks the entire selection, but we wanted to begin adding a few more of our own that work well with area projects and are derived from local inspiration!  As you can see, there are many colors within each of these images, and  likely you can match the images to the six labeled samples. Sunlight plays into our mountains and reflects on our buildings all day, every day, so we are having a good time with our local colors and this process.

As mentioned in our newsletter (look for it April 12th- I’m ahead of myself), American Clay color specialist Carrie Williar, helped me get this project started and provided the first set. We do play around with pigments and  additives such as Mica here at The ARCH as we’ve been developing our eye for colors and we’ve seen quite a few variations with the pigments over the years, but if you want a specific interest, give us a call and we can discuss how to go about getting custom colors and finishes.  Keep in mind that every color isn’t going to be possible to match  -especially the brightest colors.   I’ve collected a number of local photographs to explore including: the Double Decker Bus Red,  Beer City Amber,  Shindig Green, City Hall Roof,  and the list goes on.   Send us your ideas!

  • Developing Palette of Local Colors
  • Appalachian Gray

    Mica Factory Gray

    S&W Facade

    Great Smoky Haze

    Arcade Facade

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