Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Look At Porfilio Bustillo, #3 - Cement Trim As Faux Stone

This is the 3rd post in a row on the work of mason Porfirio Bustillo.

Please refer to the 2 previous posts to more easily follow along:
Now I want to show how he gives his decorative cement work 
a finish that resembles carved cantera stone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Look At Porfirio Bustillo - Master Mason In Alamos, Sonora

I had the pleasure to meet Senior Porfirio Bustillo,
  a mason in Alamo, Sonora who specializes in fireplaces.

These next couple posts will concentrate on the work he is doing 
on his house which is under construction.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Looking Back At Murals In Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico

I would like to expand a bit the definition
 of alternative building to include murals.

(I want to continue looking back at some of my posts 
from a couple of years ago that may have been missed
 by the weekly readers of this blog,
and this post comes from December 13, 2010.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Faces And Masks - Looking Back At You

It is interesting how we present ourselves to the world.

The mask above is found on a home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

(Please note that I am continuing to look at posts 
from a couple of years ago that current readers may have missed
 and this post was originally done in January of 2011,
with several additions we have run across since then.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Look At Domes In Mexico

As the weather turns colder
 it is nice to look back at some of my older posts from Mexico 
and this one comes from December 16th, 2010.

We have visited all these spots over the last five years.

Above is a beautifully tiled dome in San Carlos, Sonora.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another Look At Stonework At The Lake Valley Ghost Town

Last fall I ventured by the virtually abandoned ghost town
 of Lake Valley, New Mexico, where I got some photos
of the building above which was the saloon, general store,
 and gas station.

(I first did this post on April 23, 2010 
and I want to highlight some of my older posts that I did in the first year or so of this blog 
that may have been overlooked by current readers.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ruins Of San Juan Parangaricutira Church Revisited

A couple of years ago as we traveled through the Mexican state of Michoacan
 we were advised by fellow travelers to visit the Paricutin Volcano
I am glad we did.

(Please note this is a post I originally did 12/30/10 
and I want to highlight some of my older posts that I did in the first year or so of this blog 
that may have been overlooked by current readers, hope you enjoy it.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Building A Well House #9: Trombe Wall Solar Collector

It was a thrill to finally get to the point in this project 
that I had been most looking forward to 
and that was building the Trombe Wall passive solar heater 
to keep our well house from freezing in the winter.

In the photo above you can see we are pretty solarized with the Trombe wall
 and in the background you can get a glimpse of the attached sunroom on the house
 and the solar batch water heater on the roof, all passive solar use.

To follow along on the well house project:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Building A Well House #7: Prepping For Stucco

Once we got the plumbing and electrical hooked up in the well house
 we were ready to finish up the outside
 and the first step was insulating and wiring for the stucco.

This being a cement block building I wanted to try and refine some techniques
 I have been working on for applying stucco over rigid foam insulation.

Here is the complete series to date for those who may want to follow along:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Building A Well House #6: Plumbing And Electrical

Once we had the roof done on the well house we wanted to go ahead
and make the switch over from the old well system to the new
before we did the outside finishing of insulation, stucco, and solar Trombe wall.

Here is the whole series to date:
Building A Well House #1: Rubble Fill Foundation,

In the photo above you can see the old set up unearthed:
-the well casing at the top of the photo, installed in 1984,
-the 1 1/4" white pvc line that goes from the well to the two houses 
(this is a shared well), 
-and the buried grey pressure tank.

Also note the 3" white pvc line with a cap on it 
at the very bottom of the photo that is the conduit for the new pex 
(polyethelene cross braided water line),
and the 1" electrical conduit that has been left short till we are ready for the final hook up,
both of which run back to the new well house.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Building A Well House #2: Dry Stack Cement Block

This is the second post on our well house project
we looked at the foundation and got up to the first course of block.

Above we have dry stacked the block
 and prepared the form for a 4" bond beam at the midsection 
at which time we will also fill all the cores in the block up to that point.

This mid section bond beam is a bit of overkill
 but I needed to size the footer forms to the bond beam dimensions anyway,
and the forms make it easier to fill the cement block cores with concrete
much like a funnel.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Building A Well House #1: Rubble Fill Foundation

This post is the first in a series
 for a 80" x 128", dry stack cement block, solar heated, well house we are building 
and will highlight several out of the norm methods of building.

Here we will look at the rubble fill foundation
in which the footer sits on top of a foundation of rubble 
and various size stone aggregate.

The above photo shows the form work ready for the concrete footer
which is at the top of the foundation instead of at the bottom of the trench.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nearly Natural Hot Spring Pools

Since the last post was on man made hot spring pools 
I thought it would be nice to look at the more natural style pools.

Since most pools are altered by people in some way,
nearly natural refers to pools made with primarily natural, local materials
 and with either sand or gravel bottoms.

Above and below are pools that are dug out from the sandy banks
 along the West Fork of the Gila River in southwest New Mexico.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Concrete And Stone Hot Spring Pools

One of our favorite pursuits while traveling is looking for hot springs 
and even if you don't have a hot spring,
 you may want to build a pool and here are some ideas.

These first three photos are from a hot springs near the small town 
of Aconchi, Sonora, Mexico in the north central part of that state.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Designing And Installing A Rain Water Catchment System

We are just finishing up on a rainwater catchment system on our house
and our first big decision was what kind of tanks to use.

Of course we would have loved to have had nice galvanized tanks, 
but the reality is that the above ground polyethylene tanks we chose were more affordable, 
are easier to handle and install, are able to be moved,
 and will last much longer than the metal.

Many people go with below ground tanks but that requires different tanks,
 and the added cost of digging not to mention the disruption to the landscape,
and the added factor of pumping the water back up to the point of use.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Adobe Bricks

It is (was) June in the southwestern USA and as is typical it is hot and very dry-
 what better time to make adobe bricks because they also like it hot and dry.

I had a pile of adobe dirt that I wanted to get rid of
 and knew I would need these bricks for a future project.

As you can see above the ingredients for making adobes are:
-a pile of good adobe soil
 (sift your soil only if it has stones larger than about 2" or lots of debris),
-a form for the bricks,
-straw for mixing in with the dirt,
-water, a water barrel and a 5 gal. bucket,
-a very sturdy wheelbarrow,
-and a shovel, hoe, and trowels.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Make Your Own Solar Oven

For many years Allison has wanted a solar oven 
and we finally got around to building one out of cardboard
to serve as an experiment, prototype, and a pattern for a permanent oven.

(Our latest post on our new and improved oven is:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fence And Wall Ideas

Seems like a good time to show some more fence and wall ideas.

The above wall is in Santa Fe, N.M.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Helmut Hillencamp's Metal Gate In Santa Fe, N.M.

For many years we lived across the street from the Fayette Street Academy
where interesting things were always going on.

One of those things was the evolving metal gate 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Update On A Japanese Style Shed

One of the more popular posts in this blog has been 
and we were recently given a tour by the current owners of the property,
and got to see the many improvements they have added.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Metal Handles And Latches For Doors, Drawers, And Gates

Going through my photos I could see that it was time to look at handles
 for doors, drawers and gates to give a few ideas for designers, and builders.

Above are handles for the doors into the Albuquerque Aquarium.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adobe Domes At The Northern New Mexico College Adobe Program

Some time ago I did the post-
profiling the dome, above, built in El Rito, New Mexico

Since the last post was on adobe hornos
 I thought by extension it would be nice to take a look at domes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adobe Hornos Built By The Northern New Mexico College Adobe Program

We were on the El Rito campus of the Northern New Mexico College back in the spring 
and I got some photos of the hornos that had been built 

Having gotten much interest in the recent post-
I thought these ovens would be a nice contrast.

The above photo shows two contrasting styles- 
the traditional one on the right that is found all over northern New Mexico
 and on the left the smaller, lower type that requires less wood to heat up.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building A Stone And Concrete Bridge

In our frequent trips to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
 over the last few months I got to know William 
who was doing stonework at the Hay-Yo-Kay Hot Springs.

Part of his work included this very nice stone and concrete bridge 
spanning a channel of hot spring runoff water.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tile Art In Silver City, N.M.

As careful readers of this blog may have noted,
 I have posted on tile mosaic, murals, and manufacturers in Silver City, New Mexico,
 as well as the artists who practice such work.

For such a small town there is a lot of ceramic art.

Above, is a small work that we noticed 
walking around a residential area in the historic part of town.

Although it is small and at the bottom of a wall
it jumped out at us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain In Niland, California

One of the more amazing places we have been over the years is Salvation Mountain
built by Leonard Knight not far from the south eastern shore of the Salton Sea
just outside the town of Niland, California.

Allison had been wanting to go there for quite a while 
and this winter we had the opportunity to see this part of the world,
and she provided the photos for this post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Onyx Steps In Catavina, Baja California

In the long lonely drive south from El Rosario, Baja California 
to Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur lies a magical land around the town of CataviƱa
populated by boulders and cactus.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wood Fired Ovens In Baja California Sur

Here are some more examples of wood fired ovens, or hornos,
 that we found while traveling in Baja California Sur.

To see more check out LABELS-ELEMENTS on the right side bar
 and click on Kilns And Hornos.

in San Ignacio.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bamboo Mat Shed With A Palm Thatch Roof In Mulege, B.C.S.

I ended the last post, which was on small homes in Mulege, Baja California Sur,
with the above photo and now let's see how to build the shed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Small Homes In Mulege, Baja California Sur

With the small house movement getting so much well deserved interest,
 I thought it would be interesting to show some examples
 we saw in Mulege, B.C.S. at
 that were built for Canadian and American retirees.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Old Adobe Buildings In San Ignacio, Baja California Sur

This is the last post on San Ignacio, B.C.S. 
and this time we will look at old adobe houses, mostly in ruins.

The previous post shows some adobes still being used:

Sadly, I saw no current building with adobe, 
having been supplanted first by fired clay bricks 
and now almost all new construction is cement block. 

As I mentioned in the last post, 
if one had the choice of spending a hot summer in a cool adobe
 or a hot cement block house, 
it seems the choice would be obvious. Hmmm?

In the above well built wall, 
the coursing shows the bricks are laid crosswise for a wider wall.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Architectural Tour Of San Ignacio, Baja California Sur

One of the more interesting towns in Baja California Sur
 is the date palm oasis of San Ignacio,
which lies near the center of Baja both north-south and east-west.

Because it is on neither the Pacific or the Sea of Cortez,
 it has missed some of the tourist development that has centered along the coasts.

The springs that provide the water in this small valley have created a lush environment 
and an obvious place to locate a town in the otherwise harsh desert.

The large building in the center of the above photo is the mission
 which I covered in the previous three posts:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Doors And Windows At The Mission Of San Ignacio De Loyola In Baja California Sur

In this third post on the Mission Church of San Ignacio de Loyola 
in San Ignacio, B.C.S. we take a look at the windows and doors.

To see the front door of the church go to the first post on the mission:
and for another look at the exterior along the nave:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Mission Church Of San Ignacio De Loyola In Baja California Sur

One of the more interesting towns in Baja California Sur
 is the date palm oasis of San Ignacio,
which lies near the center of Baja both north-south and east-west.

Because it is on neither the Pacific or the Sea of Cortez,
 it has missed some of the tourist development that has centered along the coasts.

The springs that provide the water in this small valley 
have created a lush environment in the midst of a harsh desert,
and an obvious place to locate a mission.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anthony Shadid's House Of Stone In Marjayoun, Lebanon

I recently became aware of a set of videos to accompany the new book House of Stone
by the recently departed Anthony Shadid,
which follows his remodeling of the family home in Marjayoun, Lebanon.

To see the whole set click on House of Stone Video Chapters 1-10.

The separate chapters are:
Chapter 3- 4:05- Revealing Scars,

(In the above list I cannot find Chapter 3 as a separate video
 but it does show up in the Chapters 1-10 link.)

Anthony Shadid, an American by birth, 
was a Middle East journalist who died tragically last month,
of of an acute asthma attack while on assignment.

These videos provide a fascinating look at the remodeling process
that he goes through in bringing back the family home
 after years of abandonment.

I have not read the book but it looks good.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Home And Art Of Maria Eggleston In Mulege, B.C.S., Part 3

In this third post on the home and art of Maria Eggleston 
let's start with how she lays out her work.

The piece above is a bit smaller and has a frame of seashells.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Home And Art of Maria Eggleston In Mulege, B.C.S., Part 2

Let's continue with our look at the art of Maria Eggleston 
using cut glass, seashells, and other found objects set in a cement base.

The detail above is from a piece that is shown near the bottom below.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

N.Y.Times Article Updates Arcosanti

Allison saw an article in the New York Times the other day
 on Paulo Soleri and Arcosanti,
(from which the above photo is taken).

discusses the handing off of the reigns from Soleri to Jeff Stein as president
 of the parent Cosanti Foundation,
and includes a good slideshow.

This is a big shift for Arcosanti, 
which represents both alternative building and lifestyle,
take a look and let's wish them luck.

For more on my posts on Soleri, Arcosanti, and Cosanti
please click on Paulo Soleri under LABELS on the right side bar.

In the next post we will get back to Maria Eggleston.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Home And Art Of Maria Eggleston In Mulege, B.C.S., Part 1

One of the highlights to our trip to Mulege, Baja California Sur 
was to meet the artist Maria Eggleston at her home.

There is much to cover here and in the next few posts,
so let us start at the front gate
 where we immediately became aware that we were at the home of an artist.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

La Iglesia Santa Barbara De Santa Rosalia In B.C.S.

One of the more interesting buildings in Baja California Sur,
if not a bit out of place,
is the Iglesia Santa Barbara in Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Ideas For Gates

We have run across some pretty nice gates in the last few months,
 so let's do an update.

This very striking gate above lives in Hillsboro, New Mexico,
which seems to have an abundance of interesting gates.

To see more go to my post:
or for more on Hillsboro,
check the LABEL on the right sidebar for
Building In Hillsboro And Kingston New Mexico

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cemetery At Kingston, New Mexico

One of our favorite places is the area around the towns of Kingston and Hillsboro
along the western slope of the Black Range Mountains
 in southernwestern New Mexico, 
and this fall as we were motoring through the area
 we stopped at the Kingston Cemetery.

I have always enjoyed old and unusual cemeteries
 and this one takes the cake.