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Building Mud Benches

Why not put your trash to good use.You can easily build Lotan style mud benches from tires trash and mud.

tire bench
An outdoor mud table and bench made of tires in the Lotan eco garden.

Utilizing old tires packed with non organic trash like plastic bottles and tin cans are covered with mud and become strong useful sitting and play areas.

How-To: Build a Mud Bench

Step 1

Lay down a base tire and fill it with either sand, gravel, rocks or earth to form a heavy base. It's also possible to fill with non-organic trash. Stack more tires and fill them using the same process until you reach the desired height. Two regular car tires are a good height for a bench, remember there will be at least 5 centimeters or 3 inches of mud on top.

step1
Students of the Green Apprenticeship fill discarded tires with trash that will soon become a beautiful mud bench.

Step 2

Its now worth adding rocks or another non porous material like concrete bricks around the base as a buffer between the mud plaster on the tires and the moisture in the ground, a principle called 'Good Shoes'. The rocks or cement bricks need to be stable and dug underground a bit. We often cement them together with a cement plaster mix or 1 part cement to 3-4 parts sand.

step2

Step 3

Apply the first mud plaster layer, the slathering layer with a thickness of up to 1 centimeter or half an inch. The mix is sticky and relatively high in clay content, it may crack a little even when dry. Remember to leave the mud surface rough so the next layer can stick easily.

step3

Normally we wait for coats to dry between further layers its very important to wet the surface of the dry coat before sticking the new to it.

Optional: You may want to fill in the V between tires, we normally do. The mud mix is the same as the second and third layer (1 clay, 3 sand, 2 chopped straw). Remember, these are guidelines that may have no connection to your local soil, experiment and have fun.

Step 4

Apply the second layer of mud plaster on all the tires with a thickness of 2 to 3 centimeters or 1 to 1.5 inches. less sticky than the first and stable when dry i.e. No cracking, we hope.

step4

Step 5

Add the third layer of mud on the second. It's possible with this layer to get to the minimum thickness of 5 centimeters and so smooth out this last constructive layer of mud.

step5

Step 6

It is possible to add a fine last layer, an aesthetic layer that everyone is going to see and touch. This layer can be thin, with or without straw, with pigment, smooth, textured, funky, with decorations, sculptural, there's endless possibilities and if you make a mistake just scrape it off and do it again!

mud bench colors
A mud bench on Lotan painted with natural pigments.

You've finished everything, now we need to wait till it all dries especially if you want to weatherproof it with linseed oil, or recycled oil from the kitchen.

Resources:

  • Website: www.kibbutzlotan.com
    (Our website, we run regular courses teaching this method)
  • Book: The Hand-Sculpted House - Ianto Evans, Michael Smith, Linda Smiley

 


Contact Lotan Center for Creative Ecology
kibbutzlotan@gmail.com
Tel: +972 8 6356935; +972 54 9799030
Toll free (while in Israel): 1800 2000 75


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Creative Commons License
This work by Center for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.kibbutzlotan.com.