Onto the straw bales we first put a slip coat of clay (very wet and sprayed on), we followed this with a base coat of clay plaster some time ago. Today we are working on the next coat of clay on the straw. This panel in bedroom 4 is now reasonably level (it is all relative on straw!) A thank you to Graham for his help today with the clay.
The previous coat of clay needs to be wet down first, before applying the plaster which we did with this hand spray.
The gable wall in bedroom 4 is a much larger area and as it is constructed with custom made 'triangular' bales, it has turned out more uneven than elsewhere. The second coat of clay plaster has been applied here but there are still some areas which may need more leveling. We are not trying to get the straw bales completely flat, we want to retain some of the character of the straw in contrast to the flat studwork internal walls, but there are some spots which are a bit too characterful! When we put the first coat of clay plaster on (after the slip coat) I don't think we took out enough of the unevenness, so in the future we will bear this in mind!
This is a white clay top coat from Womersleys, which we are testing out for the top coat. It is self coloured and comes in a range of different colours. This is the antique white, however with clays the whites are more buff than white. The plaster is made up using white clay, white sand and casein. Casein are proteins from milk which are used to help bind the plaster - white clay does not bind as well on its own as grey clay. The casein gives the plaster a particular smell when wet (it goes when dry). The plaster is supplied dry in a powder which you add water to, and I would not advise keeping any mixed up plaster as the smell gets quite intense! The plaster also contains a very small amount of titanium dioxide as a pigment to increase the whiteness. Womersleys sell natural and sustainable building products and are very responsible with the by-products of the titanium dioxide which they use to make other products they sell.