How it all Continued………1991-2007
Looking back on the years since 1991, I’m finding it quite difficult to find a racy, up beat, description. I think Judith and I were flat out with a family of four boys.
Onsite brick making was discontinued in favour of supplied mud bricks. Our last MUDPAK was completed at Glenlyon near Daylesford, in 1996.
We ran many mud brick skills workshops during the 90’s as well as starting a woodfired pizza business in Piper Street, Kyneton. Predictably, the café was named ‘Mud Brick Pizza’. Everyone loved the pizza (we scored a glowing recommendation in the introduction of the 1998 edition of Cheap Eats). The business was a financial disaster though, so we were forced to close it down before Cheap Eats even hit the newsstands. The constancy of shovels, mud and gumboots for the production handmade mud bricks, though, continued unabated, whatever was layered on top of it.
The other constancy which has made the continuance of very hard physical work bearable has been our love affair with the owner builder. These courageous, independent souls are a delight to be associated with. Stubbornly persistence, they battle through a minefield of officious bureaucracy to make an independent statement about the kind of home they are prepared to live in. Their number is quite small but their cultural significance to our society is huge. I think that the main reason that mud brick has always been the first choice of alternative builders is because it is so user friendly. This is not to said in any way to demean other important materials such as stone, rammed earth, straw bale, cob, light earth, poured earth etc
Since 1991 central Victoria has established itself as a focus for alternative and innovative building. When we first moved here we sold very few bricks in this area except for perhaps Daylesford. Now there is a thriving alternative building industry with an army of contractors, builders and designers.
Our current initiatives include a ten lot sustainable subdivision at Metcalfe (20 minutes drive from Castlemaine). The Snodgrass Project (named after the Snodgrass Creek which meanders along the land’s western boundary) aims to seriously tackle greenhouse issues while providing exciting, affordable, and well designed housing.
Of course we still run workshops and make strong, durable handmades out of natural materials. Our commitment to the magic of mud is as steadfast as ever. The SNODGRASS PROJECT is our most exciting, consuming, and daunting adventure yet. It certainly encapsulates the personal values which have driven our endeavours over the past three decades. At the beginning of this year I turned sixty, and have a strong feeling that this is my life’s work. I must remember, though to keep a lid on it!