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TEG Newsletter - Issue #23We have news for you!

TEG Fall Social

We are inviting all friends of the Earthbuilding Community to join us for a casual social with food and drink! Scheduled to coincide with The Masonry Society's annual meeting, taking place in Albuquerque this year, this is a great networking opportunity for anyone passionate about adobe, compressed earth block, and rammed earth. So, all you adobe contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, plasterers, architects, draftsfolk, etc. -- come join us on November 11th!

RSVP to Pat Martinez Rutherford:

TEG Fall Social

When: Saturday, November 11th, 12pm-3pm

Where: Gutierrez-Hubbell House History and Cultural Center

6029 Isleta Blvd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105

Food & Drink provided with an RSVP by Nov. 8th!


TEG Tour held Sept. 9, 2023 Ruidoso, New Mexico – Historic Dowlin Mill

Our thanks to Delana and Dr. Mike Clements who welcomed us to their ongoing restoration of the historic Dowlin Mill building in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Rob Taylor, TEG member and contractor on the project gave us a tour and in-depth narrative on the work that has been done to bring this beautiful adobe/stone building back into use after a gas explosion did extensive damage in December of 2017. TEG member, Pat Taylor, also joined us. Pat began the work on the restoration. We commend all those involved for their time and resources in committing to the building’s restoration. To learn more about it visit:

TEG Tours are held regularly throughout the year. We visit earthen structures throughout New Mexico – new construction, historic structures, completed projects, restoration work, homes, and commercial buildings. We welcome your participation. Visit our website for current information:

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


Albuquerque Joinery’s Latest Adobe Build

Albuquerque Joinery’s latest adobe build is continuing to grow. Since our last update in this newsletter we’ve continued laying adobes; installed the window bucks; put up the solid 6x10 bond beam with its many bolts and fasteners (see TEG newsletter issue #22); laid the brick for the exterior porches; framed our few interior walls; and set the ceiling beams for the house and the posts and ridge beam for the barn. The team’s timber framing chisels are definitely being put to use this fall! This project features a somewhat unusual lumber dimension. The window bucks, headers, and ceiling beams are all 3x ponderosa pine. Rather than the chunky beams and vigas typical of the pueblo revival style, we looked to northern New Mexico for inspiration, particularly the historic pitched roofed adobes you find in the Las Vegas area. The batch of lumber we received for the ceiling beams was particularly nice, so we’re pleased to be able to feature them so prominently. As we like to do, all the window bucks were tied into the wall using strips of metal lath or stucco wire instead of gringo blocks. Strong, yet more flexible, the lath strips are much longer than gringo blocks, so this assembly ends up being better tied into the fabric of the wall. Next on the agenda is building the Rumford fireplace, finishing the adobe blocking between the beams, and moving on to ceiling decking and roof framing. We’re also looking forward to giving a tour of our site to members of The Masonry Society, which is holding its annual meeting in Albuquerque this November.

Esther Fredrickson – TEG Board Member, Albuquerque Joinery


Seeking Adobe Bricks

TEG has been receiving inquiries for a source of adobe bricks. A recent one is seeking to purchase 3,500 bricks in Northern New Mexico. If you know of a source please contact TEG and we will put you in touch with the folks looking to purchase.

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


TMS Modular Unfired Clay Masonry Standard

Work on a new Modular Unfired Clay Masonry standard continues under the umbrella of The Masonry Society (TMS). TMS is an educational, scientific, and technical society dedicated to the advancement of scientific, engineering, architectural, and construction knowledge of masonry and the author of commonly used standards governing the use of conventional brick and concrete block. Fourteen voting members, made up of academics, adobe producers, contractors, architects and engineers will be meeting in Albuquerque from November 8-11th as part of TMS’s annual meeting. The committee’s most immediate goal is establishing earthen block appropriate structural design provisions which can be referenced into the International Building Code to replace the recently retired TMS 402/602-16 Appendix A. Ben Loescher - TEG Board Member


TEG New Mexico Earthen Building Code Survey

Do you design, build or repair structures covered by New Mexico’s Earthen Building Materials Building Code? The Earthbuilders’ Guild’s Code Committee invites you to respond to a brief survey on your experiences to help guide future improvements to building regulation in New Mexico. A summary of the survey’s findings will be published in a future TEG newsletter.

Ben Loescher - TEG Board Member

Santa Fe Community College Adobe Program Updates

The fall 2023 semester at SFCC has reached the midpoint. The blended-learning Adobe Construction Basics class - led by adobe mason Ernest Aragon - spent two weekends at a building site in Santa Fe working on various aspects of an adobe build. The students also re-plastered the hornos at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. The semester will finish with our ever popular Passive Solar Adobe Design and Adobe Wall Construction classes.

The spring 2024 SFCC Adobe Construction class schedule has just been released can be found at:

Noteworthy for the spring semester is the inclusion of our Preservation Practices class (in co-operation with Cornerstones Community Partnerships)which is a requirement for our new Adobe Preservation Certificate:

Kurt Gardella - SFCC Adjunct Faculty & TEG Board Member


An Update on Recent Activities at Adobe in Action

Nineteen students are working their way through Adobe in Action's seventh online class of 2023 - Interior and Exterior Plastering. The students prepped plaster test panels for their midterm projects and will be adding earthen plaster to them in the final week of the course.

Adobe in Action is celebrating its 12th year of offering online classes in 2023. Our final online class of 2023 - Floors for Adobe Structures - starts on Monday, November 6th and still has a few spots available:

In addition to our online classes, we continue to offer project support to four owner builders who have all completed our online adobe certificate and continue working on their home builds. This weekend Carole Crews will be offering her Alíz/Clay Paint Workshop in support of Paul Mallory's adobe home build in Santa Fe, NM. More info about the workshop (with two registration spots still available) can be found here:

And later in November Adobe in Action will be offering its first workshop on the ground in Tucson, Arizona taught by former student and Adobe in Action graduate Jason Martinez:

Kurt Gardella - Adobe in Action Executive Director & TEG Board Member


Earthen Legends

TEG has begun a project of compiling bios/stories of those people who have contributed to our industry over the years. We are interested in receiving bios from anyone who can add to our library of knowledge in a salute to those who make up the history of earthen construction. Send your submissions to

Criteria for submissions to Earthen Legends:

  1. One whose profession was in the field of earthen construction – building homes, commercial buildings, adobe making, rammed earth, compressed earth blocks, scebs and manufacturing of materials and products used in earthen construction.

  2. In the field of education – teaching earthen construction

  3. Authors on the subject of earthen buildings/materials/architecture.

  4. Architects, engineers, and designers of earthen construction.


Adobe Preservation at Hacienda Martinez A Pictoral Guide to Adobe Wall Repair

Just weeks after the TEG tour of the Hacienda Martinez, TEG member and adobe preservation expert Pat Taylor led a two-day workshop on basal adobe wall repair at the hacienda. Time and poor drainage have caused extensive water damage to the east wall of the hacienda, melting the adobe blocks at the wall’s base and threatening its structural integrity. Museum director Daniel Barela, UNM Taos construction program faculty and students, a representative from Taos Pueblo, and community volunteers participated in the learning event.

The objective of Pat Taylor’s two-day workshop on adobe basal wall repair was to give hacienda staff and volunteers enough knowledge and experience that they could continue to do the work needed to preserve the deteriorating east wall of the hacienda compound. The techniques involved were classic examples of the method of traditional basal wall stabilization and illustrated the usefulness of historic documentation – such as drawings from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) – in the physical process of repair.

Digging out the damaged blocks and re-filling the cavities with good adobes secured with the proper mortar is the simple description of the painstaking work it takes to stabilize a massive adobe wall. Pat’s step-by-step process is best illustrated with photos.

The extensive coving shown here where the ground meets the wall indicates basal deterioration. The first step was to dig down in three four-foot wide sections spaced out across the length of the wall until the original foundation could be located. Spacing the openings keeps the other sections intact to support the wall while work to remove and replace adobes is going on. Once repairs to the open sections are completed and backfilled, new openings will be made and repaired and all sections tied together with key adobes to create a continuous new base for the wall.

Digging down to find the original base of the wall which lies on a rock-and-mud-mortar foundation, Pat discovered a concrete collar added to the outside of the wall in decades past. Collars were once thought to protect the wall from water entering the adobes but, in fact, prevent moisture from evaporating and trap water in the walls behind the collar. They are a very common cause of damage at the bottom of walls. Pat used a huge masonry saw (demo saw) to cut through the collar so it could be removed to allow work on the adobes behind.

Collar removed, the work then turns to scraping, digging and brushing out the bad adobes and dirt until solid adobes are reached at the back of the cavity.

Once the cavity debris is cleaned, the floor of the cavity is given a layer of mortar and new adobes are cut to fill the space. Here the cut adobes are set without mortar to plan the final alignment. As the new adobes are laid care is taken to have some of them stitched in so as not to create a veneer of adobes.

Dry fitting of the adobes complete, they are then set with mortar in courses matching the courses of the old adobes behind as much as possible. Once two or three courses are set the mortar is left to dry. The fan is to hasten drying.

First two new courses are set against the good portions of the old wall.

Prairie dogs and other rodents dug multiple tunnels through the wall in one of the sections that was opened up, necessitating removal of a large portion of the wall. After laying the new adobe courses and while waiting for the mortar to dry, Pat places wood shims at the top to provide support for the wall above until filling the cavity with good adobes is complete.

Adjusting the placement of the shims.

Pat preparing dry-pack mortar to be used to fill the small gap between the top of the new adobes and the old wall above after the final adobe course is fitted in. The dry pack is made by adding more dirt to the mortar being used in laying the adobes until the mixture is about a 5% moisture content similar to a rammed earth mix. Dry-pack avoids the shrinkage that occurs when moist mortar dries.

All hands gather in an effort to finish as much as possible in the last hours of the workshop. The video record being filmed of the work will provide digital training for new volunteers and remain to inform future preservation efforts at the Martinez Hacienda.

Pat Taylor’s workshop was a significant beginning for the massive repairs needed to return the east wall to basal stability. However, much more is needed to complete the job: Each opened section must be protected from rain and water by a plywood covering while the work continues. Because dirt had built up against the outside of the wall leaving the outside grade higher than the inside floor level, exterior re-grading all along the wall is needed. And, how to find those rodents a new home so that the new work won’t become part of their underground burrowing again………

For those interested in historic documentation related to Hacienda Martinez we have posted information -- such as its Historic Preservation nomination papers, the Historic American Buildings Survey drawings of the Hacienda and more -- on the “resources” tab at Taos Adobes by Bainbridge Bunting devotes an entire section to the Hacienda’s history with photos and drawings of architectural features. Anyone interested in DIY repairs to old adobe walls should also check out the Basal Repairs and Stabilization chapter of Cornerstones’ Adobe Conservation, A Preservation Handbook. Good digging!

By Anne Galer - TEG Member - Photos © Anne Galer

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