How we began: Liz and Sarah have been teaching together since they first met at the Natural Building Colloquium East in 2008. During the summer of 2012 Liz led a four-month women's apprenticeship in North Carolina, with Sarah as guest instructor and project consultant. Ten women - eight apprentices and two teaching assistants - created a 12' x 16' cottage with straw-clay walls, timber frame, clay plasters, and slate roof. Four of the apprentices helped to teach parts of a natural building workshop later that summer, sharing the skills they had recently learned, and three graduates have since worked for professional natural builders. Just as important as the hands-on skills they learned, these wonderful women have gained confidence and leadership skills which will enhance whatever work they choose to pursue.
“My experience timber framing with Sarah Highland and Liz Johndrow was nothing short of transformative. Their gentle, supportive coaching and calm, quiet work site made room for a lot of deep learning. I was able to progress at my own pace and gain the confidence I needed to work on my own project back home. I look forward to working with them again.”
– Georgie Donais, 2010 workshop participant
– Georgie Donais, 2010 workshop participant
Liz is a plasterer, timber framer, and straw bale builder, who is equally at home with cob, woodchip-clay, and wattle-and-daub construction. She has taught plastering, timber framing, and earthen floor workshops.
She has recently begun working with communities in Nicaragua, blending indigenous construction techniques with methods from the wider world of natural building, and helping women to feel empowered to build.
To learn more about Liz, her business Earthen Endeavors, and her exciting work in Nicaragua, www.earthenendeavors.com
"I enjoy spaces that bring me in touch with my natural surroundings. As a builder, I was thrilled to discover I could bring that contact deeper into my home experience through my choice of building materials. Since that discovery, I have been exploring the world of cob, strawbale, adobe, earthbag, earthen plasters and floor systems, and – more recently – the world of wood, through timber framing. These materials and techniques have also helped me explore the combination of natural building materials and simple systems, empowering people of all ages and abilities to participate, and the creation and celebration of community in the process. The past year has taken me further into the role of teacher, facilitator, instructor and co-conspirator. I am increasingly passionate about helping others learn these skills so they in turn can share this vision of beautiful, sustainable, and socially just structures."
– Liz Johndrow
Sarah will be a guest instructor for the apprenticeship since she took a position as lead instructor at The Carpenter's Boat Shop in Pemiquid, Maine. Sarah has been building and woodworking for almost two decades. Trained as a carpenter, she discovered timber framing and natural building, and has long made them the focus of her work. Since 1998 she has been leading timber frame raisings, writing articles, teaching classes, leading community-build playground projects, and teaching natural building workshops. She designs homes and barns, consults with owner-builders, and particularly loves to teach. Most recently, she has begun facilitating groups in exploring team-building and leadership. To learn more about Sarah and her business Highland Artisan, www.highlandartisan.com
Our Lovely Assistants
Emilie Anderson hails from Michigan, but she spends most of her time traveling as a natural builder. She has a degree in Arts Education. She has worked on several straw bale houses and assisted Liz and Sarah in last year's apprenticeship in North Carolina. She enjoys playing the guitar, so bring your instruments!
Karen is a dancer turned natural builder. She studied under Sarah and Liz during last summer's four month natural building apprenticeship. She worked with Christina Ott of Barefootbuilder.com last fall, and she is currently assisting Liz in Nicaragua, constructing two natural buildings for women's groups. She is excited to assist with this year's natural building apprenticeship, and she is looking forward to learning strawbale construction and spending time in the northeast. Check out Karen's website and blog at buildlikeabird.com.