Mother Earth Living


Cast & Character: Building a Home With Cast Earth Construction

A well-traveled homeowner lends personality to a home built using the cutting-edge technology known as cast earth.



This breakfast bar, above, is Jan’s favorite place to read the paper and get ready for work. Jan’s grandmother’s 1932 Wedgewood stove was restored by Gentleman Jim’s of Sheridan, Oregon. The flooring is wood recycled from warehouses along the Columbia River in Oregon.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Frerking’s wife, Joanne, a fabric and watercolor artist, consulted with Jan on color before adding pigments to the cast earth mix that resulted in the rich earth tones in these walls. The windows were set into openings in the cast earth walls and anchored with drywall covered with similarly pigmented earth plaster.
Photography By Terrence Moore
McShane riveted copper pieces to the insulated metal front door following Jan’s design. The darker sections oxidized naturally, while the lighter pieces, coated with polyurethane, retain more of the copper’s original color. The result is energy efficient as well as artistic.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Contractor J. W. McShane etched a dark, wave-like pattern into the curved, exterior cast earth wall using a high-pressure hose. Jan went over the design with iron oxide and a wet sponge to add color.
Photography By Terrence Moore
To create the feel of a cast earth without the cost for the low interior wall, above, drywall was soaked in water until uniformly damp, drip-dried, wrapped around a curved frame of wood studs, and, when dry, nailed in place. Earth plaster, a form of cast earth, was then applied to the wall to create a rough, earthy look. The wall is topped by a piece of flagstone from a local quarry. Above the wall, dancing figures suspended on wires hold small lights. One of Jan’s current creative projects is to enhance the shadows that the figures cast by painting them on the white wall in subtle shades of white and champagne.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Contractor J. W. McShane etched a dark, wave-like pattern into the curved, exterior cast earth wall using a high-pressure hose. Jan went over the design with iron oxide and a wet sponge to add color.
Architect and builder Michael Frerking used a power saw to cut these nooks into the cast earth wall, but he says that putting removable inserts into the wall when it is poured would be easier. The small books in the nook on the right have been passed down through Jan’s family.
Photography By Terrence Moore
The head of Jan’s bed rests against a cast earth Trombe wall, which acts as a passive solar heating device to stabilize the room’s temperature. Above the Trombe wall sit hats that belonged to Jan’s family, including a top hat that Jan’s great great grandfather wore as a pallbearer at President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.
Photography By Terrence Moore

















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