I Love What I Do
I do. I love what I do. Sometimes in the middle of plastering a wall with lime or clay or Tadelakt, or when I have my hands and feet in the mud making a building mix, I feel like I’m going to explode and scream it: “I love what I do!”
I love the materials I choose to work with. I love the challenges each project offers me and the way those challenges align with how I want to grow as a person: patience, unbiased attention, creativity and joy. I love the people I get to meet who are drawn the work I do.
I love the excitement and anticipation getting ready to start a new project and I love the complete exhaustion I feel when the project is complete. I love what I do.
I spent years and years in the conventional building world, primarily as a carpenter. While many of those projects were special, I was always disturbed by the amount of toxic materials being produced for and put into our buildings. Something within me sunk so low every time I had to dump materials at the landfill. Often these materials were perfectly usable, often they were completely toxic. I cringed every time I had to pour a bunch of concrete, knowing how destructive that material is, knowing that it’s the third highest contributor internationally to carbon pollution. For me, the conventional building world chafes my ethics of doing no harm, reflecting the beauty of the natural world, and leaving things better than I found them.
And so almost every year I found a way to escape for a working vacation, traveling to the world of Natural Building. In locations around the world I learned the ancient, vernacular techniques for designing and building with natural, local earth materials - lime, clay soil, sands, plant fibers - and how to integrate these eternal materials and skills with modern performance standards and aesthetics. Along the way I met some of the most incredible and eccentric creators, dreamers, and visionaries to whom I’m forever indebted.
Finally the day came that I was ready to leave the conventional building world and begin offering all that I had learned from these incredible teachers and fellow students.
And Mano de Barro was born.
The work I do is important. It is one part of the conversation about the new world we want to create as we face very difficult questions around humanity’s impact on and responsibility towards life on this planet. Global warming, natural resource depletion, toxicity in the air and water, and apathy/defeatism are just some of the areas in which my work is looking to create solutions. The materials I use (clay soils, limestone, plant fibers, and sands) are not only less negatively impactful on the environment and infinitely reusable or compostable at the end of their life cycle, they are also beneficial for the health of our buildings and its occupants. Properly applied, these materials regulate indoor air humidity, making buildings that feel more comfortable and do not support the growth of harmful molds. They contain no harmful chemicals that contribute to “sick building syndrome” (which is becoming more and more recognized as a leading cause of illness, particularly respiratory and skin illnesses.)
And equally important, these materials invite creative expression that give our lives richness and meaning. I’m not going to work each day doing the same thing over and over. I’m meeting my clients where they are, wanting to know who they are, what’s important to them and from there creating beautiful, ecological, unique buildings and surfaces that reflect their lives and aspirations. It brings me so much joy when a client wants to participate in the building of their space and with these materials and the right direction, any novice can become a competent builder very quickly. Because these techniques are in our DNA.
Our bodies carry the imprint of our forebears who built in this way, with what they had and in the way that brought them joy and comfort.
I’m no longer just building houses, I’m helping my clients to find that indefinable sense of being at home.
Do you want to be a part of the solution? Do you want to create something beautiful, ecological and unique in your home? I’m here for that conversation. Please get in touch and let’s talk about how we can Bring the Earth Inside.
Mano De Barro is a natural plaster company specialising in consultation and application of unique natural, ecological finishes of lime, clay and Tadelakt. Also offering educational workshops and complete construction using Natural Building methods, Mano De Barro is based in the Marina Alta, Costa Blanca region of Valencia and Alicante and serves the local communities of Javea, Moraira, Benitachell, Teulada, Marina Baixa and across Spain and Europe.
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