What is The Year of Mud?
This is The Year of Mud, a website all about building with natural materials and techniques, including cob, straw bale, and timber framing. I started the blog when I began building my first cob house with little prior building experience, back in 2008. I moved into the house in July of 2009. The home is now known as Gobcobatron, and the ‘year of mud’ marked the beginning of a new era — my heavy fall into the world of natural building.
My name is Brian Liloia, but I’m also called Ziggy. I currently live at South Slope Farm in the Appalachian foothills outside Berea, Kentucky, after living at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri for seven years. Along with my partner April, we’re in the beginning phases of developing our newly acquired land into a functioning collective homestead and natural building school.
Beyond Mud: Continuing Building Adventures
2012 marked the year that The Year of Mud expanded to offer new Natural Building Workshop opportunities to educate people about building with beautiful, local, and natural materials. Our first classes were Timber Framing and Straw Bale Building courses.
I’m excited about working with other like-minded folks who want to “push the envelope” in the natural building arena. Collaboration is key and I actively seek new folks to work and teach with us. Education is crucial to our well-being, both providing it and continuing to receive it ourselves. Our goal is to continue to offer a high quality, personalized, and hands-on workshop learning experience for folks wanted to integrate natural building in their lives, whether it be cob, straw bale, timber framing, etc.
The Year of Mud proves to be more than just that — it’s a way of being. It’s a continuing education of learning how to live lightly, and build beautiful, long-lasting, and efficient homes and spaces.
The Year of Mud in the Media
My first cob house has been featured in several publications and a multitude of websites. Here’s a sampling of the press attention:
- Featured in 2008 issue of The Bund Magazine of Shanghai, China
- Included in May 2010 issue of Parade Magazine: Home, Strange Home
- On the cover of the Fall 2010 issue of Yes! Magazine: 10 Ideas for Building Community Resiliency: A Hand-Built Home
- Interviewed in May 2011 for Boing Boing: Brian “Ziggy” Liloia on How To Build Your Own Hobbit House
- Included in Popular Science September 2011 issue: Top 10 Backyard Genius 2011
- Included in Lloyd Kahn’s Tiny Homes book
- Featured in ‘Homes Made From Wacky Materials’ on Forbes, February 2012
- Five page spread in Grace Magazine of China, March 2012
What is a Cob House, Anyway?
The Year of Mud is named for my first cob house project. Cob is an ancient, proven building technique practiced all over the world. It’s the simple combination of sand, clay, and straw, mixed by foot, and then applied by hand to form massive walls. Cob is beautiful, sculptural, natural, low-impact, and sustainable. It’s intuitive, easy to learn, and inexpensive. Cob houses can be built from materials straight from the earth.
The material allows the owner-builder endless freedom in way of design, and cobbing basics can be learned in a day. It is indeed labor-intensive, but it becomes a labor of love, and what better way to build a home than by getting your hands and feet dirty in the mud, without the need for loud power tools and heavy machinery?
p.s. No, a cob house has nothing to do with corn cobs.
Using Content From The Year of Mud
Please share content from this website in whatever capacity you wish (via email, social media, etc.) Although I’m not a big proponent of copyrights per say, I cannot abide in folks copying full articles (full text and photos as originally posted on The Year of Mud) on other websites and media outlets. Please contact me if you wish to use my text in some capacity (such as an excerpt or otherwise). You can share and use photos from this website, but please note my Creative Commons licensing preference, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Thank you!