The day we were leaving Taos I happened to notice in the paper
that the annual mudding of the San Francisco de Asis Church
in the Rancho de Taos Plaza was taking place.
We had to stop by.
Last summer I did four posts on the church and plaza:
The annual mudding is truly an inspiring community affair.
Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, young
and old, parishioners and neighbors
all come together.
The mixing of the mud is done by hand in these long wooden boxes.
The dirt is screened...
...and straw and water are added.
The dirt is trucked in from a secret nearby location
and the same source is used every year
so the color of the church stays the same.
It has a ratio of sand to clay that makes a strong plaster
yet does not crack after it has dried.
The long box allows people to sift the dirt and mix the plaster...
...and load the mud at the same time.
On this day the north side of the church is being worked on
providing shade from the hot sun.
The mudding is usually done in June before the summer rains
and after the temperature has warmed up allowing the mud to dry hard.
The normal tools for stucco and plaster are often used
though some may just use their hands.
One of the beauties of mud is that it cleans up nicely
compared to gypsum plaster or cement stucco.
This job may be all about tradition
but if a parishioner has a crane all the better
for getting to the hard to reach places on this very tall church.
This living church is not a historical theme park
and the Lord shall provide.
The crane held scaffold starts at the top
and works down so the scaffold doesn't mar the fresh plaster.
The drips of water below the scaffold show where the wall has been wet
before the mud is applied to get a better bond.
Once the scaffold gets to the ground the wheelbarrows are replenished
with mud before the trip back to the top.
This is the first of a two part series.
The next post will have more on this:
To see more check out the Labels section on the right side bar
and click on Adobe In The Southwest, Building In Taos New Mexico
or Spiritual Places.