Archive for May, 2011

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.

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: 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!

The ARCH Architectural Finishes Flooring and More on Facebook

The ARCH is now on Facebook!

We’re looking for new friends! Join us!

You’ll receive news about product developments, how-to articles, workshops, demos and other events.

For a direct link click on  the Facebook logo:

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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.


 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.

Easy Wood-Fired Oven Roasted Vegetables and Portobello Mushrooms and a Few tips Utilizing Oven Space

Easy wood-fired oven roasted vegetable meal

What about the meal that falls into the middle of the week and you want to use your wood-fired oven to make something that is easy to make? Here’s a mid-week meal that requires little preparation time and minimal tending of the oven giving you a chance to actually sit back with your drink of choice, and simply swivel a few pans and stir the vegetables from time to time.

With a handful of potatoes, carrots, apples, and in this case,  a package of Portobello mushrooms you can put together a delicious blend of flavors.

Chopped carrots, red apple, yellow beet,olive oil, and a dash of sugar- all ready to roast

Cabbage has a good shelf life, so, as a side, I created a simple slaw of thin sliced cabbage, (both purple and green cabbage), a little honey flavored Texas Pete mustard, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise. Add a few pine nuts or slivered almonds, and a few dried cranberries if you like. (Roast the nuts in the oven first!)

Within about forty-five minutes I built a pretty nice fire  using hardwood pieces typical of  the sizes shown here.  Hardwoods are needed to maintain the duration of heat.

About five to ten minutes into the process the logs burn with intensity as shown. You can easily move the fire around with the flat rake tool to make use of different areas of the oven. Don't be afraid to "multitask" -making use of different locations in the oven!

The dry wood catches easily and gave me time to chop up the vegetables, make the slaw, and baste the mushrooms with olive oil and sea salt.

I have several pieces of Lodge Ware, and find the smaller pans easy to maneuver when shuffling a few items around the  grill   positioned within the oven for the portobello mushrooms.  (Grills are available at The ARCH).

Lodgeware smaller pans are convenient.The pan on the right has yellow sweet potato, onion, garlic, olive oil, and late in the game add the tomatoes and some chopped rosemary

With the grill in place I can still pull the smaller pans back and forth  to check the progress and move them about. If the fire begins to drop  in temperature I’ll nudge a few wood pieces to one side of the fire and ease them into the hotter coals as needed. 


This insures a high heat to maintain that lovely “sizzle” in the pans  that is music to your ears as the vegetables roast  and caramelize.

The apples add for a nice sweet balance

That about wraps up another fine, but simple meal.