Making Wheat Paste

Wheat paste is often used in earthen plasters, floors, finishes and alis that need a little extra ‘glue’. It add stickiness and durability. It can keep  earthen plaster surfaces from dusting off. We’ve also used it for sticking bike posters to the L.A. landscape ;)
It’s super easy to make…

Wheat Paste Recipe:

2 cups of flour + 2 quarts of water or 1 gallon of water + 4 cups of flour

Add the flour to a little cold water while whisking it in. Just enough to make a soup.
Add water and flour concoction to boiling water and turn to low heat or off. Stir until the mix starts to turn clear.
You can send it through a sieve to remove lumps for fine finishes.
Store the wheat paste in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. The paste will keep for a few weeks if refrigerated.

Application to earthen mixtures:

Add 20- 25% wheat paste to a plaster or clay paint.

Clay Culture

Carole Crews has published the long awaited book Clay Culture: Plasters, Paints and Preservation.  It’s now available on her site only!

Carole grew up in the Northern New Mexico culture where working with mud ( adobe, cob, or earthen building) is still very much alive.  She shares the history of the area and her experience melding art and mud with over 25 years of professional experience and experimentation.  In the true do-it-yourself spirit Carole wrote and designed the book her self. Offering  a unique wealth of knowledge and collection of photographs.

I took a little excerpt from the book, since Carole is famous for her alis finishes…

Carole’s Favorite Alis Recipe

6 qt. batch ( approx 150 sq. ft.)

Measure one gallon water into a bucket
Whisk in 5 qt powered kaolin clay
2 qt fine sand and /or ( preferably) whiting
2 qt mica ( fine flakes or powder )
1 handful of chopped straw ( optional )
1 handful of mica chips ( optional )
Slaked pigment as needed for color ( optional )
1 qt. cooked starch paste  ( wheat, rice or cornstarch ) or 1 cup casein or butter milk or a combination of binders

Earth’s Premade Mix

Clay and Sand

Geological materials co-mingling into a perfect earthen mixture.  This photo was taken where a fine, light colored sand lays next to adobe clay. It’s delicious to think how these materials are so raw and how somewhere in there mother earth is making a perfect mix!
I’ve used this fine sand mixed with regular adobe dirt, red clay and kaolin clay. Making a variety of different colored alis mixes or earthen paints.

Alis Recipe

60% kaolin clay
40% whiting, sand, and or mica
* Add a cup+ of wheat paste per 5 gallons

Plastering Gina’s Cob Hogan

Recently we gave Gina’s cob hogan a new layer of plaster. We started off by poking at the existing earthen plaster; raking off the loose stuff. It was worn out, but what do you expect after 15 years? All around the base of the walls the earthen plaster had touched the ground. Moisture worked it’s way in. We had to remove about 3 inches in and 1 to 2 feet up in some spots. The wall underneath was still in good shape. We filled in with a stiffer cob mix, rich with sand. We under cut the new cob, rather than plopping it on the ground again. Continue Reading…