The Art of Building with Clay & Polished Plasters - Lime, Clay & Tadelakt

  • Rancho Mastatal Rancho Mastatal
  • 100 metros del Centro de Acopio, Mastatal, Puriscal, San Jose, COSTA RICA
  • Mar 29 - Apr 6, 2019 (9 days)
  • $1,000 Early Bird before January 1, 2019.

Event Highlights

  • Cob
  • Wattle and Daub
  • Natural Plasters
  • Polished Lime Plasters


Day 1



Testing mixes

Day 2

Base coat plastering

Material preparation

Day 3

Wattle & Daub



Day 4

Theory of materials

Clay and straw finish coat

Day 5




Day 6

Polished clay

Simple polished lime

Day 7

Clay carving & artistry

Day 8


Venetian polished lime

Day 9

Wrap up


Questions & feedback

About This Event

This course will introduce students to the fascinating art of polished plasters and clay carving whilst focusing on technique and application. We will also introduce students to the theory and practice of building with clay using adobes, cob and wattle and daub.  

At the end of this course students will understand the roles of each of the ingredients involved in natural earthen mixtures both for plasters and for building. This key understanding will allow students to apply this knowledge when building for themselves or in other situations, empowering students to go on and build successfully with natural materials.

Students will also gain competency in plaster application and be introduced to a number of plasters from around the world including tadelakt, Venetian and polished clay.

This class will be perfect for people looking for an introduction to natural building or for people who already have some plastering experience and would like to learn some new techniques and finishes.

The course will be taught in English.

For more information about food and lodging please see our website at (contact info blocked)

Please see (contact info blocked)

To enroll in the class, please go to (contact info blocked)  For more information please contact Tim O’Hara at (contact info blocked) and/or call the Ranch at (contact info blocked) or WhatsApp at (contact info blocked).   

This place is beyond incredible. Such a tight knit group of people doing such amazing things. Rancho Mastatal is nestled deep in the Jungle of Costa Rica, I ended up there with a group of Wilderness EMT students and has no idea what to expect but within the three weeks I spent there is quickly became a second home for me. ~ Clara Murray

Venue Highlights

Swimming in the many waterfalls and rivers within walking distance
Getting involved with the local community at the futbol field, library, or soda.
Taking a tour of one of the other eco-tourism projects in town.
Becoming friends with the hard-working Ranch core team and apprentice team.
Visiting our neighbors at Parque Nacional La Cangreja.
Learning about our sustainability practices during a Day Workshop.
Devouring local chocolate treats from La Iguana Chocolate.
Exploring the 14 kilometers of trails throughout our Private Wildlife Refuge.
Touring the Ranch's extensive campus and permaculture farm and systems.
Feasting on the buffet style meals cooked with care.
Resting in a hammock with one of the thousands of books from our library.
Taking a morning stroll on the quite streets to bird-watch.
Getting involved in a dinner time clean up dance party.
Learning about medicinal plants from leaders of the nearby indigenous reserve of Zapaton.
Helping to harvest ingredients for the days meals.


We build our living structures using contemporary and traditional natural building methods and locally sourced materials. We construct with bamboo, cob, wattle and daub, light clay, natural plasters and wood and stone found in the area's surrounding forests and rivers and design/build all of our own edifices. We have various options to choose from and will do our utmost to match you with the alternative that best meets your desires, budget and needs. Our lodging rates include all meals except for dinners on Sundays when we support the local restaurant. The price for children over 3 and up to 12 years is $30 per night. Costa Rican Nationals get a 15% discount on lodging.

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Includes Meat
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free


The kitchen is the heart of the Ranch. It is the place we gather, the place we celebrate, and the place that sustains us day by day.

Our food is sourced from our local and regional foodshed, and each meal is prepared by hand from whole foods. We do not own a can opener. We do not own a microwave. We minimize our use of fossil fuels by cooking on fire, with solar energy, or with methane gas from our biodigestor. We value traditional methods of food preparation as well as innovation and culinary fusion from many practices. Each meal is served with something fresh and something fermented, and most include local or exotic delicacies like pejibaye, ojoche, jackfruit, breadnut, zorillo, starfruit, tropical greens, taro, and many more.

Our kitchen philosophy is grounded in the understanding that every part of food production--from farm to harvest to storage to preparation and preservation—are inherently linked in a food system that we have the power to continuously design and implement. We believe that communities everywhere can create sustainable, regenerative solutions that render the predominant global, fossil-fuel-based food system obsolete.

Meals at the Ranch are cooked from scratch, delicious, and plentiful with the majority of ingredients coming from the Ranch and a variety of local farms. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements prior to arriving.


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Tags: adobe clay plasters cob earthen building earthen plasters lime plasters natural building natural plasters wattle and daub

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