Introduction to Cob & Natural Building

Course Description

In this introduction to Cob & Natural Building you will learn how to build with earthen materials in both a hands on and a classroom setting.

Cob combines clay sediment, sand, fiber, and water, and is hand sculpted to form walls, benches, ovens, and fireplaces. Cob building makes use of readily available, affordable, non-toxic materials to build beautiful, organic structures.

The introduction to Cob & Natural Building course is appropriate for both first-time builders and for professionals in the building trade who are interested in natural materials. In this cob workshop, we focus on the characteristics of the natural materials most commonly used in construction: clay soil, sand, and fibers. Our main focus will be cob, though we will touch on various other building techniques that utilize the same materials, including adobe block, light straw-clay, wattle and daub, and plasters. We will discuss how to find and choose appropriate soil for construction, how to create various mixes, how to attach wood to earthen walls, and how to use earthen materials to build walls, sculpt niches, shelves, and furniture.

This introduction to Cob & Natural Building course is primarily a hands on course, where we learn by doing. This year we will be building a very tiny outbuilding, which will encompass much of the same aspects of building that you would need to know for a structure or courtyard wall. As a complement to the hands-on portion of the course, we will include slide shows and discussions of the theoretical aspects of natural building. Subjects include building design and siting, passive solar design, foundations and drainage, earthen floors, appropriate roof design, and wiring and plumbing for natural structures.


Sasha Rabin - Introduction to Cob & Natural Building
Sasha Rabin
Sasha first came to Quail Springs on a cold snowy night in early 2008 to visit friends who had recently started calling the place home, and the warmth of the people there brought her back. She is passionate about creating a beautiful life, including the structures that house us for much of our time. This passion leads her to practice those things that help us remember who we really are and why we are here – activities and creations which remind us of our connections to each other, our food, our shelter and the earth.

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John Orcutt - Introduction to Cob & Natural Building
John Orcutt
In 2013 John left his job as a coral farmer seeking a more fulfilling life helping people build shelter for themselves. He spent the next three years as a nomadic natural builder and student. After studying at the Earthship Academy in New Mexico and the Cal-Earth Institute in California, John joined a crew of superadobe (earthbag) builders from Cal-Earth and built in California, Arizona, and Nepal.

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Registration Information

  • Sliding Scale Cost: $800 –$1200 — What is Sliding Scale?
  • Cost includes: Cost includes: Instruction, camping, and facilities. We invite all participants to take part in three farm fresh meals a day.
In order for us to take the appropriate COVID-19 precautions we are currently unable to host this course at this time.

Discounts: (limit one discount per person)

  • Early Bird: $100 discount if paid in full by March 1, 2021 (Discount Code: MUDDYBIRD)
  • Bring A Friend: 10% discount (each) for couples or friends attending the course together (Discount Code: COB4TWO)
  • Group & Family: Groups of 3 or more attending the course together, please click here to contact us about discounts.
  • Financial aid: Payment plans and limited partial scholarships (based on low income / financial need & intention to use the training) available by application. We actively support diverse leaders in bringing their unique perspectives to this program through additional financial support as needed. We welcome those self-identifying as a person of color, LGBTQ+, indigenous, and persons working for global justice who have highly limited means. Click here to contact us for more information.

Cancellation Policy:

  • Before March 1, 2021: Full refund, excluding $50 cancellation fee.
  • March 1 – March 31, 2021: Partially refundable, $300 deposit non refundable.
  • After March 31, 2021: No refunds available.
  • In case of a valid personal medical or family emergency, we will consider, yet do not guarantee, requests for a transfer of fees (less course deposit) to another course with Quail Springs.

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COVID-19 Update:

In order to honor social distancing practices and shelter in place, we are not currently offering any in-person courses. However, there are still several ways that you can stay engaged with our work!

Online Permaculture Design Course

Learn More


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Introduction to Cob & Natural Building
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