Mangarara Eco Lodge nestles on the shore of Horseshoe Lake in Central Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
It's a part of The Family Farm which is dedicated to sustainable regenerative farming and education around re-connecting with the land.
Tadelakt is a polished lime plaster originating in Morocco and now being brought into wider use in natural building via excellent teachers such as Ryan Chivers of Artesano Plastering in USA.
The silky feel and hydrophobic qualities of Tadelakt mean it can even be used in wet areas such as bathrooms for a luxurious sculptural finish.
When the fireplace surround in the Lodge needed something special, the obvious choice for designer Steven Jaycock was Tadelakt.
Local materials were available to create a beautiful focal point referencing the surroundings.
Many helpers lovingly polished,
mixed, sieved, carried, trowelled, encouraged, cooked, DJ-ed,
boogied, and provided great company to make it all happen so beautifully.
Going through some photos recently brought to mind how a housewarming gift of one of my earlier pieces led to a summer of creative adventures as a Helpx helper.
The house my gift was warming had first to be built -from local and found materials- .. a topic I love.
So when I was invited to be involved, I was there like a shot.
I was given a car load of wine bottles by a retiring winemaker, found some bright crockery, and off I went.
The bottles found their way into a magnificent bottle wall which grew and evolved with the personalities involved.
It was another whole dimension when the roof went on and showed it off in all its glory.
The crockery joined in a decoration on the top step, made with stones from the nearby river.
Some of the stones had seams of fossils or crystals in them.
They were given pride of place around the entrance.
Another smaller bottle wall was added when some extra special bottles were donated.
I was put in charge of plastering the cordwood walls.
The river provided the most beautiful silky smooth mud, delivered by floods, drained, filtered, and ready to use.
The top 10cm was what we needed..
below that was coarser silt, and below that, eels.
We made a branch bridge for mud gathering.
I made samples of several mud plaster recipes and we left them to dry on the wall when we all went home for Christmas.
On our return, the best one was then used for the whole house, inside and out.
We mixed the mud plaster by foot and applied it by hand.
The results were incredibly satisfying.
I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to work with such creative, talented and interesting people.
And we had so much fun!