What is The Year of Mud?
My name is Brian Liloia, but I’m also called Ziggy. I currently live outside Berea, Kentucky, after having lived at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri for seven years. Every day, I strive to learn how to live more sustainably and self-sufficiently. I live with my partner April, and we are currently seeking land to form a collective homestead with our friend Jacob.
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 humble blog when I began designing my first cob house, back in the winter of 2008. With little prior building experience, I finished the house in July of 2009. The home is now known as “Gobcobatron”. The Year of Mud marked the beginning of a new era — my heavy fall in the world of natural building.
Beyond Mud: Continuing Building Adventures
Our building adventures have grown to include new projects. 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.
We are excited about working with other like-minded folks who want to “push the envelope” in the natural building arena. Collaboration is key and we 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, hands-on workshop learning experience for folks interested in natural building, whether it be cob, straw bale, timber framing, or beyond.
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, efficient spaces.
The Year of Mud in the Media
My 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 building experience. 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 is intuitive, easy to learn, and inexpensive. Cob houses are 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 then 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.