EcoNest Natural Building Workshops and Timber Framing Workshops

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January 2012

New for this month:

»   Interview with Sukita Crimmel
»   Just a Few Spots Left! February Plaster & Earthen Floors Workshops
»   Authentic Food: the new Builder’s Companion Cooking Class
»   The EcoNest Cookbook by Paula Baker-Laporte

Interview with Sukita Crimmel

By Paula Baker-Laporte

Sukita Crimmel

Sukita is a leading expert earthen floor builder. Her line of earth floor products called “Claylin” has recently been launched and is now available through and a growing list of distributors. EcoNest is featuring Sukita in our Feb. 11-12 earthen floor workshop demonstrating her products and techniques on floors in the future EcoNest Ashland headquarters. There are a few spots still available.

PBL: How did you become interested in earthen floors?

SC: When I was a student of Architecture and Environmental Studies at the  University of Oregon, I discovered the field of natural building through the student group HOPES. Each year they produce an ecological design arts conference which includes hands on earthen building. For me and mud it was love at first site. The physical experience of working with the materials and the quality of the finished spaces was life changing.  After graduation I volunteered for Cob Cottage Company and then went to work as a building apprentice. On one project we poured a 1600 sq. ft. earth floor. I gained confidence from that experience and upon moving to Portland I got serious about bringing natural building into the mainstream and got my contractor’s license with the idea of specializing in clay-based finishes. I had the idea of bringing earthen plasters and floors into existing homes first as a way of demonstrating the transformative quality of these materials in a way that was attainable to everyone.

PBL: Why package clay and sand in a bag?

SC:Why cut trees into 2x material? To make it readily available and efficiently useable to the construction trades. Claylin makes earthen floors available to a wider audience, with a high degree of quality control in the sourcing of the raw materials and their precise formulations. I would like Claylin to become a household word known for the quality and dependability of its array of natural building products.

PBL: An earthen floor is a fairly new idea to most people and it conjures up images of a fragile dirty surface that is dusty and impossible to clean. Could you describe the qualities of a well-built earthen floor and the process of “housekeeping” one.

SC: Earthen floors are  burnished to a refined finish and then sealed with natural oils and waxes that make it waterproof and “moppable.” The care is similar to a naturally finished wood floor;  sweep and mop it using oil based soaps and re-wax every 1-5 years depending on traffic. A shoes-off policy is not only a way to keep maintenance down, but stocking or bare feet is also the best way to experience and appreciate the sensuality of its subtle natural undulations.

PBL: You teach students how to build earth floors all over the West Coast. What do students take home?

SC:  Students gain hands-on experience of installing an earthen floor, a written how-to manual, and the confidence to participate in the installation of their own earth floor in their existing or new home.

Learn the Art of Natural Plasters, Earthen Floors or Both!

Chris Koehn

Feb. 4-5, Plaster Workshop with Charlie Carruthers

Charlie is one of North America’s leading natural plasterers. He will bring his 30 years + of experience to Ashland teaching both interior and exterior plaster treatments for natural building.

Feb. 11-12, Earthen Floors with Sukita

Earthen floors are rapidly gaining popularity as a beautiful, natural, non-toxic flooring option. Modern earthen floor construction combines tradition and science, integrity and beauty.

Register for just one class or save 10% when you sign up for both!

View the 2012 Workshop Schedule


Authentic Food: the new Builder’s Companion Cooking Class

EcoNest Workshop
Nourishing Recipes
Sustain Builders

While your builder companion attends the EcoNest workshop learn how to prepare delicious meals for a crowd using locally grown organic food, packed with nutrition. Join Paula Baker-Laporte in this creative and fun adventure. Emphasis will be on gluten-free vegan recipes.

Attendees will receive a copy of the day’s meal plan and recipes and gain invaluable experience especially for those planning to host their own home-building workshop one day.

Classes start at 9AM on each day of the workshop and end with a delicious lunch in the good company of appreciative workshop attendees.

Cost: 35/day includes lunch.

Registration: To reserve your spot in the kitchen for any of the weekday workshop days in Ashland contact

The EcoNest Cookbook by Paula Baker-Laporte

Chris Koehn

Filled with dozens of wholesome recipes for entrees, soups, salads and more, The EcoNest Cookbook emphasizes vegan and gluten-free recipes to accommodate various eating restrictions.

Complete with a chart for each recipe that outlines measurements for serving 6 to 36, the book is an invaluable resource for those who want to create recipes for large crowds.

Purchase the EcoNest CookBook



We hope you’ll stay in touch!

Robert Laporte and Paula Baker Laporte

Please let us know if you’d like us to update your email address by contacting us through our website:

Paula Baker-Laporte FAIA & Robert Laporte,
EcoNest Founders