Dirt, people refer to it in many ways; as earth, clay or soil, Call
it what you want but it’s the clay that provides the stickiness,
plasticity and binding, sand is a filler, stabilizer, which provides
strength, structure and reduces shrinking to help minimize cracking.
Chopped straw provides the fiber for flexibility, tensile strength
and further reduced shrinking and cracking.
Additives or amendments, the list is long. Do your homework and add
what you like. We are still testing but find our basic mix works really
Basic LanderLand Earthen Plaster starter mix developed with the Steens:
1.5 parts water
2.5 parts sifted "Kingston Clay" soil
1.25 parts sand
2 to 3 parts (3/4 inch) chopped straw
How we hand mix:
Due to the weight, we prefer to use smaller 2.5 gallon pails as our
standard of measure rather then 5 gallon buckets . We also like to
set up a mixing table or platform with plastic tubs rather then mixing
in a wheelbarrow or on the ground. After a long day your back will
To your mixing tub first add the water then evenly pour in the clay
and sand. Do not start to mix right away. Instead walk away and let
the clay and sand soak up the water. Come back in about 5-10 minutes
and you will see how easy it is to stir up the mix. Use your fingers
to feel and break up any dry lumps. Now add 1 part straw and thoroughly
mix, and then add the second part straw. Mixing will become more difficult
but mix it well, breaking up all straw to where again there are no
dry lumps and all the straw is covered with clay. Now you are good
to go. If you are doing a 3 part straw mix then this last bucket really
requires a lot of effort.
What about using a mixer or adding water to the straw or doing this
or that? Hey go for it. We just like doing small batches by hand.
This mix can be used for both interior and exterior plasters. Earthen
floors require more sand.