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TEG Newsletter – Issue #9

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

TEG Tour – March 2020

Chimayo, New Mexico was the sight of The Earthbuilders’ Guild’s last TEG Tour. The Plaza del Cerro in Chimayo (located 30 minutes north of Santa Fe) is the most intact 18th century defensive plaza in New Mexico, a treasure of New Mexico history. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the Plaza del Cerro consists of 33 properties with 22 separate owners. Some plaza buildings are in ruins, some stand but are vacant and a few are fully restored. Andrew Ortega, local weaver, whose family goes back several generations, was our guide along with Jake Barrow from Cornerstones. Cornerstones has been restoring the ruins of the Casita Desiderio y Pablita Ortega. As well, we were treated to a tour of the wonderful Chimayo museum, a rich collection of artifacts, stories and photographs of the Chimayo area. For further information here are two links: For current information on future TEG tours follow us on Facebook, check our website or feel free to contact us: The Tours are a special look at some extraordinary earthen properties around New Mexico. Given the circumstances of our lives right now, the tours for the rest of 2020 have yet to be determined.

Pat Martinez Rutherford – TEG Board Member

Adobe Certification Exam Rescheduled

The Earthbuilders’ Guild Adobe Proficiency Certification exam has been rescheduled to take place in Albuquerque on September 25-26, 2020. The deadline to send in applications is September 15th.

TEG is adhering closely to guidelines and restrictions recommended by the New Mexico Department of Health and put in place by the NM state government—keep an eye on the TEG website for notice in the event further postponements become necessary.

The Adobe Proficiency Certification provides recognition of the applicant’s professional knowledge through a process of examination and review by adobe construction professionals. The topics covered in the exam are extensive, encompassing aspects of modern construction: NM Earthen Building Codes and the permitting process, foundations, floors, wall construction, roof, insulation, finishes…and also include elements of adobe preservation and passive solar, among others. For more information go to

The benefits of obtaining Certification thru a recognized trade organization are many, from showing prospective clients or employers the level of skill and competency one has obtained in the field, to encouraging the professional development of others interested in adobe construction, and in providing an example of what it is to be an Adobe Builder.

Helen Levine, TEG Board Member

An Update on Earthbuilding Activities in Germany

Image Left: The wood fiber insulation boards are coated with a thin layer of earthen mortar before they are pressed up against the wall.

Image Right: Long, capped screws are used to attach the wood fiber insulation boards to the wall. Each panel gets 4-5 screws. They are usually finished with a 2-coat earthen plaster. I am currently assisting with an adobe restoration project in Germany and wanted to use it as an opportunity to speak about the many natural insulation material options that are available here. This current project is using wood fiber insulation boards that are 40cm thick. The boards are being attached on the interior side of the wall (half-timber framing with earthen block infill) since we are not allowed to make any changes to the the exterior facade of this registered building. Along with other natural insulation panel alternatives (such as reed or straw panels), the wood fiber insulation boards are a good match for earthen walls as they maintain vapor permeability throughout the entire thickness of the wall. Wood fiber insulation boards are especially easy to work with. They can be cut with a jigsaw and attached to the wall using long, capped screws or a special anchor and pin system. It is also very easy to get a 2-coat earthen plaster to adhere to them. We continue to wait for a US producer to begin making and selling these types of sustainable insulation panels on the US market. They would be a great addition to our adobe wall systems.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member

An Update on Spring 2020 Adobe in Action Activities

In spite of the current Covid-19 crisis, Adobe in Action has managed to keep its activities going since most of our offerings made the transition to the online format many years ago. Another year of online adobe construction classes began in early January at Adobe in Action. Nine students are currently working their way through the current History & Basics of Adobe Construction class. The students just finished their midterm projects – evaluating their local soils, making a 2-brick adobe form and a 1/2″ soil screen. We will be making our first test bricks in the coming weeks. Adobe in Action’s next online class – Foundations for Adobe Structures – begins on May 11th. This is a great class to begin the program with since every successful adobe project begins with a sound foundation. More info can be found at In addition to our online classes, we are offering project support to four owner builders who have all completed our full adobe certificate and have begun working on their home builds. Most of this support work is carried out via an online project management system but some site visits and student workshops will be planned as well. Support for the owner builders we have been working with in the Silver City area has wrapped up but you can still follow their project at Finally, we are back on track with our Mud Talks podcast series after an extended break. The latest episode deals with Interior & Exterior Plastering. All of the podcasts can be found at

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member

Update from Colorado Earth – CEB Production

Production is underway at Colorado Earth utilizing a new line of equipment from Ital-Mexicana, a manufacturing company based in Mexico City. The TerraPress 2400 produces 6″x12″ blocks with or without holies. We are excited about the opportunity in Colorado to produce CEB at scale for the health of our planet and those that live here! We will soon be experimenting with the addition of hemp fiber in our blocks. For more information, please visit

Lisa Morey, TEG member

Adobe Farmhouse Renovation

TEG member, Wayne Rutherford’s company recently completed the restoration of this treasure. The three-room core of this adobe farmhouse was built in the 1940’s by a dairy farm owner and added onto over the course of the next thirty years. Like many rural homes a significant amount of work was required to open up a number of the smaller rooms into more usable spaces, create better daylighting, and improve traffic flow from room to room.

The owner-builder was an enthusiastic woodworker; the home had hand-carved trim inside and out. We left most of the woodwork intact during this 9 month, whole-house, all-systems remodel. The trim that we had to remove often had notes written in carpenter’s pencil on the back side commenting on the weather, the owner’s faith, and the affairs of the day. The fret-work eave trim was repurposed onto the top of the kitchen wall cabinets.

TEG members, you are welcome to submit a short article along with a picture for the next TEG eNewsletter. Show us your work!

Wayne Rutherford, TEG Member

TEG Honorary Lifetime Member – Jim Hallock

The Earthbuilder’s Guild Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the Honorary Lifetime Membership award for 2020 has been given to Jim Hallock. The Board wishes to thank Michael Neumann, Executive Director of Partners in Progress, for nominating Jim and we are genuinely grateful for the submission. It is our hope that TEG will always have the privilege of being able to honor and recognize those among us earthen practitioners who have been instrumental in moving earthen construction forward, especially when done with heart, mind, and spirit. We especially want to thank Jim for graciously accepting the award in the spirit with which it is given, as an acknowledgment that his peers see him as one that has given immeasurable benefit to all of us in countless ways. For those who are reading this and do not know Jim, there are some things that you indeed should know, some of which I will borrow from Michael’s letter. First, know that Jim is both a role model and, using the appropriate word, a hero to many in the earthen industry. He has worked tirelessly over decades to bring life and energy to the earthen construction industry and has mentored and guided countless aspiring earthen devotees both in the United States and around the world. His passion and vision have been an inspiration to earthen practitioners to both young and old, newbie and experienced. As Michael put it “I know of no one who has done more to improve our understanding and use of earthen construction, to make earthen construction accessible to the communities that need it most, and to educate and inspire the younger tradespeople and professionals who will be carrying this work forward for generations to come. It is perhaps Jim’s compassion and kindness for others, especially, the disenfranchised and marginalized, though, which inspires me the most. He has invested countless hours and resources creating opportunities for earthen construction in Indigenous and other resource poor communities from the U.S. and Mexico to the Caribbean and Africa. He understands the power of an accessible technology like earthen construction to create a more just and equitable world. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries on earth, he is helping to raise building standards, while working to advance SCEB as an affordable, safe, and healthy building solution in communities there. I am aware of SCEB projects completed or in various stages of planning and implementation in nine communities across three departments in Haiti. Before Jim arrived in Haiti, there were none.” Jim is indeed worthy of this award, TEG’s highest recognition of contribution to the earthen arts. We are humbled by his actions and his integrity and look forward to many more years of his contributions to TEG, to the earthen industry, and to the world

John Jordan – TEG Board Member

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