carving 1

Decorative Clay Plaster Workshop with Athena Steen, Sussex, UK


Happy plastering on our Spanish workshop last year…

Athena at work carving different layers of clay plaster to make a beautiful flower design…

Carving and colours – amazing possibilities!

Beautiful clay carving work from Athena's recent workshop in Scotland...

Beautiful clay carving work from Athena’s recent workshop in Scotland…

People having fun at a Clay Plastering Workshop run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

Workshops are always lots of fun!

A six day In-Depth Clay Plaster Workshop with our guest teacher from Arizona, Athena Steen.

26 – 31 May 2017.

Set on a beautiful estate of Michael Hall Steiner school in the East Sussex countryside in the village of Forest Row, UK.

Taught in English by Athena Steen of the Canelo Project, author of many straw bale books, and architect and author Paulina Wojciechowska.

This workshop is a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on experience of all aspects of clay plaster on a real straw bale that will be used for an outdoor classroom, in the woods of the school. The structure and straw bale walls of this building were built 2 years ago by class 9 students and a workshop that we ran and is waiting to be finished off with many layers of straw clay, smooth plastering and carving.

What You Will Learn

The six day workshop is based around the real hands-on experience of using clay plaster on the walls of a real structure, supported by regular lectures to ensure you understand the theory and possibilities. Over the six days you will learn:

  • Recognising the clay found on our land and understanding how to use it for creating clay plaster in construction
  • Preparation and application of the first 2 coats of clay plaster onto the straw bale wall
  • Application of a clay and straw “cob” mixture to straw bale walls
  • Preparation and application of the final layer of plaster
  • Sculpting with clay plaster
  • mixing different clay colours applying and carving the smooth plaster layers.
  • Methods of protecting clay plaster from the elements.
  • Preparation and application of clay paints for a beautiful natural finish.
  • The theory of how clay floors are built.

This clay plaster workshop will be mainly hands-on, with theory lessons on each day to back up the practical skills learned and provide the opportunity for more detailed questions to be answered.

Book Your Place

The price of the six day In-depth Clay Plaster and artistry with clay plasters Workshop is £535 per person, or a discounted price of £485 is available if booked by 15th March 2017.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop begins.

To book your place
call Paulina (+44) 7787918184.

About your Workshop Leaders

The workshop will be lead by our guest teacher Athena Steen, along with Paulina Wojciechowska.

Athena is considered one of the founders of the natural building revolution. In 1989, along with her husband Bill, she founded the Canelo Project, a non profit organisation with the aim of spreading their knowledge of natural building far and wide. Paulina gained her experience and wisdom in natural building while spending 6 months working with Athena and Bill, 20 years ago! Click here to read more about Athena and the Canelo Project.

Paulina Wojciechowska, is a qualified architect who has 20 years of experience building with straw bales and  earthbags in communities all around the world. Paulina worked alongside leading straw bale and clay plaster veterans Bill and Athena Steen in 1997-8 and has been involved in running natural building workshops and designing and building structures with natural materials since then. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. This is expected to be in the region of £10 per day. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held on the grounds of Michael Hall School, in Forest Row  on a large 6×10 metre straw bale structure built in previous years to be an outdoor classroom.

You may camp within 20 minute walk by Weir Wood reservoir on a camping farm field or on a floor of a un used storage barn for £5/day, which includes the use of a kitchen, with toilet and shower facility.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Please note that consumption of alcohol and smoking on the site are not allowed.

Workshop Timing

The workshop will run approximately on the following times:

Days 1-5:  – 09:00 to 18:00
Day 6: – 09:00 – 16:00

If you are  camping, you are welcome to arrive any time from 15:00 on the day before the workshop starts and to depart the day after the workshop ends.

Booking Multiple Workshops in UK.

You are welcome to attend a combination of our other workshops:

Design Your Dream Natural Home + Earthbag dome workshop £675

Earthbag dome + Straw Bale + Artistry in clay and clay plastering (July dates), £855 if paid before 1st March, otherwise £975

Design Your Dream Natural Home + Earthbag dome + Straw Bale + Artistry in clay and clay plastering (July dates) £1245 if paid before 1st March, otherwise £1450

But there is more…

This will be more than just a clay plaster workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Learn more…

Hear Bill and Athena Steen talk about their work:

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:


Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plaster workshop: