Rethink Your Life!
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The Work of Art and The Art of Work
Kiko Denzer on Art

[Cob] can't make cob test samples in Thailand?

Ocean Liff-Anderson ocean at
Sat May 17 19:41:36 CDT 2008

Come on now, I'm not claiming any Western technological superiority  

There is nothing in Thailand to prevent you from making a test brick  
of cob (12"x2"x6") or a test swatch of plaster/floor material (12"  
square)...this is a low tech process, no different than building the  
counter which is now causing you so much trouble. Just let the test  
samples dry, see if there is any cracking, shrinkage, how strong they  
are - does the material dent to the touch?  Then, before building the  
counter and before treating it for water-resistance, test the samples  
with any oil/beeswax/finish products you want to use on your final  
structure...this will save you a lot of heartache and hardship...

If you want to contact Kiko, you can find a contact for on his  

You can also see examples of his earthen plaster art pieces on our  
website at - click Maya's Home Page,  
then click the link to Kiko Denzer...

Cobbing always,
Ocean Liff-Anderson

On May 16, 2008, at 1:03 PM, Stephen Karrington wrote:

> In the real world I would agree with you completely.
> Testing, checking, studying, analyzing . . . It's all good. But  
> this is
> Thailand. Things don't work that way here :) LOL.
> Please send Kiko's number. I'll give him a call. Thanks for your  
> input.
> S
> "Ok, I've been reading about this sticky wet countertop for weeks now,
> and have to chime in.
> (Disclaimer:  I've made the following comment on this list several
> times before, but here it again bears repeating...)
> This project is a good reason to learn earth building from "experts"
> who have experience in proper techniques.  Kiko Denzer and Ianto
> Evans always recommend making "test bricks" of cob or "test swatches"
> of plaster and floors, letting these dry completely to check for
> cracking/hardness (usually insufficient sand).  Also you need to test
> any finish treatment you are going to use on these test swatches,
> BEFORE applying it to your beautiful creation.  Hence the trouble you
> are having with red food coloring, veggie oil, etc..."
> _____
> So on to solving your problem:
> Sounds like your counter is either saturated with veggie oil, which
> will never dry, or was treated while still wet with water?  Think of
> trying to paint wet wood - would you expect the paint to adhere or
> dry, ever?
> Cob floors are treated with several coats of "boiled linseed oil"
> blended with various amounts of solvent - it's nice to use citrus
> solvent instead of turpentine (huge areas lead to very stinky and
> toxic air).  For example, there's a little cob building at
> Breitenbush Hot Springs which has a floor which was obviously treated
> with turpentine - you go in there and the toxic fumes are still
> strong, YEARS later!
> For application to a floor (not unlike a countertop situation), one
> must start with a bone-dry earth/sand floor surface, apply the
> linseed/solvent mix, let dry completely, then apply another coat,
> dry, then another coat, etc.  The final layer is a mix of beeswax
> with boiled linseed - caution here, since too much beeswax results in
> a sticky surface that never dries, stays tacky...(ask me how I know
> about this!)
> I know everyone on the coblist wants natural products, but raw/
> natural linseed oil will NEVER dry.  The "boiled" variety actually
> has "drying agents" - which are a bit nasty (carcinogens, etc).  You
> might find a natural version with citrus drying agents, let us know
> if you do.
> However, all the above directions won't help with your existing
> sticky wet countertop.  If your surface has a deep penetration of
> veggie oil, it will likely stay soft, tacky, and red-staining
> FOREVER.  I don't agree that a surface treatment of some conventional
> wood sealant would help - again, imaging trying to paint wet wood.
> Sadly, I think you'll have to start over - chip off the red clay oil
> mix, build again with a proper cob floor mix, let dry, then apply the
> above linseed treatment.  Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but I
> don't see any way out of this, especially if this is to be a high
> impact commercial surface!  And when you do rebuild it, please call
> Kiko Denzer for advice, an expert on cob surface treatments,
> plasters, etc (I have his phone number, ask me for it), and make test
> patches and test your surface treatments before applying them!
> Good luck!
> Ocean Liff-Anderson
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