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I spent yesterday in the CobBauge workshop at Plymouth Uni, finding out more about this material. The day was spent fluctuating between two poles: one, earthed, that what we are dealing with here is the ‘get your hands dirty’ materiality of mud and fibre; the other, unearthed, the insubstantial world of performance, of the readings from instruments, numbers, dials, artificially coloured thermal images, scientific analysis in its many forms. What a traditional cob builder might know from experience, CobBauge is working on bringing into the world of building regulations, where you don’t exists unless you are quantified. In Australia, it seems, cob as a building material literally doesn’t exist (even though it has been used there for many years) since it has never been quantified and entered into the Library of Building Materials. As for those tests, here’s a nice hybrid – the ‘splat’ or ‘drop ball’ test, to check that your cob is maleable enough to use, but not so fluid that your wall will run away. [Thanks Kevin for letting me nose around your workshop. Fascinating day]

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