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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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EcoTimber’s New Engineered Woven Bamboo Escape and Silver Lining Compliments Decor

Beautiful and contemporary Bamboo Engineered  Silver Lining and Escape  are  perfect for those looking for that slightly subdued bamboo texture with either a cast of  Silver Brown/Gray or  a distant wheat field under their feet. They are not strong  colors nor are the patterns overwhelming, but instead will blend with many color schemes.  The strands of bamboo are seriously compressed  into long blocks using a “cold press” method for optimum stability . “The unique engineered construction provides the most stable platform in the industry while maintaining the status of a completely renewable resource since each layer is composed of 100% Moso bamboo”. All Eco Timber flooring is free from added urea-formaldehyde and other harmful VOC’s and contribute to LEED points.

For more information on specifications of these products:

Silver Lining

Escape

EcoTimber Woven Engineered Bamboo- Silver Lining

Designers have taken an interest in the soft tones of these two new products. There are a number of dyed bamboo floors on the market that are so busy that  they are not of interest for the larger living areas.  Silver Lining and Escape are two selections that work beautifully with so many settings. Drop by The ARCH to see the larger 17″x17″ samples.

Remember- The ARCH can have an order drop shipped anywhere. Give us a call 828 253 5455

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

Vermont Natural Coatings- Great Choice to Restore Decks, Siding, and More

Available in Gallons, 5 gallon buckets, and quarts

Unless your deck is totally covered, the access to your deck is paved from all sides, you have no pets, and you wear slippers to walk across your deck- it’s going to get a mean work out- every year.

 Abrasion and the weather elements are going to take it’s toll. North Carolina’s  2010 winter meant frequent snow piled high on our deck- which meant c-o-n-t-a-c-t with the shovel from time to time. We work in the yard a great deal, so unless you have a “shoes off” policy for your deck,  (inside maybe- but the deck?), here again, comes a good bit of dirt,  sand, and  occasional gravel stuck in your soles. Then there’s the intense sun exposure- especially during the summer months. The list goes on… but don’t forget the dog racing back and forth in excitement.

Toenails the Dog

Your deck needs something tough and you need something non-toxic, and we highly highly recommend Vermont Natural Coatings Poly Whey Exterior Finish.  Just last summer  (before we carried Vermont Natural Coatings in our showroom),  we applied “a different” brand that was admittedly toxic-we thought we had picked a “relatively safe” choice among the  selection at a big box store (a very bad decision – and we know better).  Hey, we’ll be applying it outside right? Wrong. Evaporation is not a funny thing when it comes to toxins and I, for one, unfailingly ended up with a headache and this was just one symptom that I was aware of. As for cost? It wasn’t worth it for a minute. A year later our deck looked pretty bad once again, and what’s our health worth?  As dealers of Vermont Natural Coatings since the Fall of 2010, we are thrilled to have a product we have full trust in and continue to receive great feedback about.

Worn out deck refreshed with VNC's Exterior finish with Acorn Brown tint. Previously the deck had a brown stain, of which VNC can be applied over. Keep in mind, this deck has seen a decade of wear. Imagine the finish over a smooth pristine wood surface!

We can’t say enough good stuff about Vermont Natural Coating’s products- all of their products. It feels good knowing we’ve recently put down a really great product. It’s coverage is superb, it’s cost is very reasonable, and it’s a sustainable, durable product. Best of all- when we applied Vermont Natural Coating we experienced NO toxic fumes during or after the application and no headaches to worry about.

Detail of older deck with VNC Exterior finish- Acorn Brown tint

ALSO -great for decks, fences,siding, railings, and outdoor furniture!

We are very excited to now stock Vermont Natural Coatings at The ARCH. We also carry their non-toxic wood cleaner which is safe for all wood surfaces, vegetable-based, and safe for people and pets.

Exterior application instructions

Vermont Natural Coatings was  designated a Top-10 green building product at Greenbuild, the premier annual green building event.

Give us a call at The ARCH at 828 253 5455.  Also, please know we can have the product shipped to you! Hey, Northern Michigan friends- I know what your decks go through!

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

    Sheltered Mica Village Open-Air Lobby is Sweet on American Clay

    February 11, 2011 1 comment

    Lobby Entrance to Mica Village Lofts

    A few years ago a customer purchased clay for an outdoor lobby entry area  for the  interesting  Mica Village Lofts project in Asheville.  I’ve dropped by the Mica Village several times  and am pleased to report that the finish continues to perform beautifully.  I love what was accomplished with the entire building and the colors of the old factory standing tall against the village condos is an artistic canvas in itself.

    Restoration at It's Best

    This outdoor lobby area is roofed and protected so it doesn’t experience direct water, but as you can see only about ten feet away there can be a torrential downpour of rain or blowing snow and the moisture that circulates throughout the area simply breathes in and out of the finish as moisture is simply a good companion to the time honored clay.  The restored iron window frames have no panes and invite the breezes into the space.

    Prior to the renovation,  the building was in near ruins as the French Broad River flood rampaged through the entire lower area. Condo spaces are now in use at a second level above the flood plain. Parking and the lobby area are at the ground level. The building includes salvaged architectural elements of the original Mica Factory and is an environmental success story.   Over 60% of the building materials used in this project were reclaimed from the original Mica Plant.

    From time to time I hear from someone that works with other finish materials that express- yes- you can spray with a fire hose.  Well, though you can’t spray clay plaster with a fire hose it can be compressed to be a very hard finish. I love the clay because it lives and breathes with the environment,  the pigment is integral throughout the product, and can be easily repaired  with extra clay from the project. For commercial and high traffic locations, there are additional options including the use of natural binders and clay with additional aggregate. In a setting where there WILL be frequent child’s sticky fingers running along the wall we sealed two restaurant walls approaching a restroom area at our friend’s Artisan Catering Restaurant. We didn’t hesitate to apply clay above my tiled shower walls in two different bathrooms where on a daily basis moisture is it’s friend.

    Here’s a  moisture demonstration from American Clay  if you’d like to see how moisture behaves  in a 1×1 foot box that is painted, versus one that has clay.

    For more information about  American Clay visit our showroom. We offer workshops as well.

    EcoTimber Woven Poplar Offers New Look, Great Story

    Fall In Love With Your Floors!

    Woven Poplar on Special at The ARCH through February 28th. If you are looking for something different- EcoTimber’s Woven Poplar offers a unique and elegant alternative to Woven Bamboo, with a great environmental story! All Woven Poplar products are made from 100% Recycled materials, and are FSC Certified Recycled. EcoTimber’s Woven Poplar comes from 100% Recycled FSC-Recycled furniture scraps! Made without added urea-formaldehyde adhesives. Specials on display at The ARCH: Evening Harvest, Last Dance and Afternoon Tea. Please call for pricing. For specifications on each:

    Woven Poplar Evening Harvest

    Woven Poplar Last Dance

    Woven Poplar Afternoon Tea

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