Alis clay paint is made up of clay, aggregate, and water. Pigments, such as powdered minerals or oxides, can be added for colour.
This photo shows the contrast between the smooth alis clay paint and the texture of the coloured earthen plaster. The powdered mica in this alis gives it a shiny finish, whereas the earthen plaster is a matte finish with texturing from the trowel application.
The shine in this alis coat is achieved by adding mica to the mixture instead of silica sand as the aggregate. The mica reflects light, and different sizes of mica in the alis paint will give different results.
The beautiful earthen plaster on these drywall walls creates a gently textured matte finish that suits the look of the plastered straw bale walls. Using earth pigments and ochres for the colour also complements the natural wood of the timber frame.
The colour plaster for the drywall walls in this house combines white clay, finely chopped straw, and earth pigments to form a thick mixture that is applied with a metal trowel.
The plaster on these walls has been applied, troweled, and then hard troweled. Once fully dry, it will be ready for the finish plaster, or alis coat, that will add colour and further smooth the look of the wall.
A nicho (Spanish for “niche”) can be carved into a bale wall to add character as a spot for a statue or artwork. Straw bale building lends itself to creative shaping of the plaster walls, using the depth of the bales to advantage in crafting custom features.
When it comes time to plaster a straw bale house, have a party and invite all your friends, family, and neighbours! Many of the tasks can be learned quickly, and the more people that come, the more fun everyone has. Even the owners’ three year old son couldn’t resist slapping on some gloves and getting a little muddy.
In many straw bale homes, a truth window is a place on one of the walls where a cabinet or window reveals a section of the raw bale wall underneath the plaster to assure skeptics that yes indeed, this house is built of straw.
Plaster tests are done before plastering to decide on the right mixture of ingredients for the current application. The tests are allowed to fully dry and then are inspected for how well they continue to adhere to the bale wall and whether there are any issues with cracking.