Create Sacred Space

A "Complete Cob" Natural Building Workshop

cob, natural building, natural building workshops

July 14-28 | Nevada City, CA

Taught by Rob Pollacek

Founder of California Cob


Space Limited to 12 Students

About the Workshop

In this comprehensive 14-day Cob workshop, you will learn the basics of building a small Cob cottage by creating a 15’ diameter round Cob Sauna Temple, with a timber-framed earthen roof.

Cob Saunas are a fantastic teaching project, as they are big enough to learn and practice your Cob building skills, but small enough that we’ll have time to explore some of the other crucial aspects of the Cob building process, which often get overlooked in workshops with larger Cob projects. 

We will take you on a journey through the most important aspects of Cob construction so that you’ll feel confident in building your own Cob cottage. You’ll get to experience firsthand the joys and challenges of building a Cob house, and also learn how to install doors, windows, roofs, and earth plasters. 

In addition, you’ll specifically be learning how to build a Cob Sauna, which is a fantastic project in and of itself. It’s also a great first starter project for you to undertake after you get back home. And honestly, who doesn’t want a Cob Sauna in their backyard!

All Inclusive

Location Near the Beautiful Yuba River

Here's What You Will Learn:


cob building, natural building, sustainable building, california cob, rob pollacek

Choosing a great building site

What are the most important things to look for when choosing a great building site? And what are things to avoid? Learn how to lay out a comprehensive building site that can handle large piles of clay, sand, gravel, rocks, a Cob building under construction, and most importantly, people, in a safe and efficient way.

Site Development

Learn to use a builders level on a tripod , to understand slope, drainage and how to modify the site, so that water easily flows away from your building.


Learn the important factors to building a great foundation for a Cob building. Every great building starts with a solid foundation, using rocks, gravel and concrete, to give your Cob walls a solid and beautiful base.

Anatomy of a great Cob building

Learn the basics of building design, working with small spaces and Passive Solar design, how to draw “to scale” and how to create building plans that your building department will be able to understand. Learn the latest in how to permit a Cob building.

Materials Analysis

Clay, Sand and Straw testing. Learn the principles of how to make great COB, and understand the relationship between these simple materials, and why some cob is better than others, and the engineering testing that will be needed for building a permitted cob building.


california cob, natural building workshops, rob pollacek, cob workshops california


californiacob, cob in california, rob pollacek, natural building

Learning how to build with Cob

You will learn traditional mixing and hand building techniques, as well as a moveable form system which greatly speeds up the Cob building process. We’ve used this form system almost exclusively for the last 20 years.

Tractor Cob

Learn the principles of making Cob with a tractor. There will be at-least one full demo of Tractor Cob. We’ve made well over 500 batches of Tractor Cob, over the last 22 years, and have a wealth of knowledge on this topic. We average 3-5 cubic yards per hour of finished Tractor Cob.

Cement Mixer Cob

Learn the principles of mixing Cob with a Cement Mixer or Mortar mixer.


Learn how to create stationary collapsible door and window forms, which will speed up the cob building process. We will make square and arched forms.

Door Installation

We will be installing the door in this sauna, and will also talk in detail about the important aspects of preparing a rough frame, attaching it to a cob wall properly, so that your finish door frame will fit perfectly and your trim will look great.

Door and Window Trim

You will learn the principles of making and installing door and window trim. We will make and install some trim from scratch.

Window Installation

We will be installing 3 windows on this sauna. We will also be cobbing in single panes of glass.

Window sills

We will be creating and installing sloping exterior window sills for the 3 windows.

Cutting Stone Sills

Learn the principles of cutting stone with a diamond blade. We will be cutting and setting stone sills into the cob for interior window sills and shelves.

Doors and windows

cob building, natural building, sustainable building, california cob, rob pollacek


seed kiva, california cob, rob pollacek, natural building workshops, cob workshops

Timber-Framed Earthen Roof installation on this Turtle Shell Sauna Roof

We will be preparing and setting the large timber beams and headers into the cob, and setting the round pole rafters for this Turtle Shell Roof. We will go into detail about how to create an earthen roof, with french drain drainage system and cedar border edge. We will also talk in detail about the various roof designs for Cob buildings.

Chimney Installation, through the earth roof

Learn how to vent a chimney through an earth roof, for a sauna or a cottage.

Flagstone Hearth and Wood-stove Installation

Learn how to set a flagstone hearth and understand the importance of “finish floor”. This is crucial knowledge for setting flagstones into Earth Floors, for wood-stove hearths and at door entrances.

Poured Adobe Floors

Learn the principles of how to make and install a Poured Adobe Earth Floor.

Other Flooring Techniques & Principles

Learn how to build a cedar floor for this sauna, how to scribe wood to stone, and understand the principles of creating a raised floor in a cob house.

Hearth, floors and stoves

cob building, natural building, sustainable building, california cob, rob pollacek

Sculpture, carving and plaster

californiacob, cob in california, rob pollacek, natural building


Learn to make a special sculpting cob mix, for use in creating Bas-Relief sculptures on the cob walls. We will have time to explore sculpting on this Cob Sauna, creating Bas-relief and will learn a technique for accentuating the cob/foundation line so that the foundation “pops”.

Niches and Altars

Learn to carve niches, set shelves, and create altars In the Cob walls.

Earth Plaster

You will learn how to make and apply an earth plaster. We will be applying the “Scratch Coat” in this workshop. We will also be making and applying an adhesion coat, and then applying earth plaster to a painted sheetrock wall in the main residence on the property. We will also learn how to make some interior Kaolin plaster, and talk about interior finishes.


Learn the basics of integrating carpentry into your Cob building. From beams, rafters, and round poles, to wooden forms, window sills and rough frames, carpentry is a key component to building a Cob house. We will start the process of installing the 2 x 6 cedar tongue and groove roof, which was cut and milled on site, learning how to make mitered cuts on the chop saw.

Natural Building Sister techniques

Learn the basic principles of Straw Bale, Bale-Cob, Slip-Chip, Light-Straw Clay, and how these other techniques can blend seamlessly with a Cob building.

Electrical, plumbing and Gas

Learn the principles of running utilities; how they get in, how they get out and how they work in a Cob building.

Carpentry, utilities and other wall systems

cob building, natural building, sustainable building, california cob, rob pollacek

Our Time Together

Other Workshop Events

Yuba River Swimming trip

Join us as we explore a remote swimming hole on the famous South Yuba River.

Natural Building Tour

Join us as we travel around Nevada County and look at some Cob houses, Saunas , Temples, Garden walls , Cob benches and Earthen Floors.

3 organic, gourmet meals a day

Let go of the need to cook, and let us take care of you. Dietary restrictions are available upon request.

Morning yoga or meditation practice

Join us each morning in the beautiful yurt temple with gorgeous hard wood floors. A mix of led practice and personal practice. Each morning starts with a time to connect in to your essence and the quiet nature of the site.

The site

Enjoy this beautiful and remote site on the San Juan Ridge, overlooking the South Yuba River canyon and nestled into a Black Oak forest with meadows and views.

Basic Workshop Schedule

7:30 Morning Yoga & spiritual practice
9:00Building on site
1:45Class Time
2:30Building on Site
4:30Snacks on Site
7:00Free evenings for showers and rest

Your Teacher

Rob Pollacek is a master Cob builder, having been a professional Cob and Natural Builder since 1999. He trained and apprenticed with The Cob Cottage Co. in 2000, and 2001, and specializes in tractor cob, moveable form systems, temple and sauna spaces, earth roofs, poured adobe floors, earth plasters, garden walls and teaching comprehensive workshops where the students build a miniature cob house, in the form of a Cob sauna or Cob cabin, learning all the elements of how to build a Cob cottage. He is well known for his “California Cob” website, which highlights many of his past projects, including his 3000 square foot permitted cob house, built between 2004-2007. This house will be on our Natural Building Tour. He continues to focus on building small sacred spaces and larger permitted Cob buildings.

 After 25 years, He still loves building with Cob, and hopes to share his passion for this ancient building technique with you.

About the Project

The Project

We will be building a Sacred Space Cob Sauna, which will be used as a Temple space, and meeting room for groups of 10-12 people. These Cob saunas also function as a personal retreat space, one-on-one counseling room, healing or massage space, music and singing room, meditation space and psychedelic journey chamber. They are a strong container, holding a strong presence on the land and a deep connection to our Sacred Mother Earth and the element of fire. It is an honor to get to be a part of such a special creation. Your life will be changed by the building of this Sacred Cob Temple , and you will leave empowered, inspired and educated in how to create a structure out of Cob in your own life.

Who should come?

The Book

We will be referencing “The Hand-Sculpted House” , By Ianto Evans,
Michael Smith and Linda Smiley. I personally trained with all three of
these great teachers and consider this book to be a fantastic compliment
to this workshop. Please arrive with your own copy.

Also, highly recommended, is the brand new “ Essential Cob Construction” by Dente, Smith, and Burke.” This will be the new Cob bible for the next decade or more”.


Each student, completing the 10 day workshop, will receive a
California Cob “Complete Cob” Certificate of Completion and will be
connected to the “California Cob” family, and receive the benefits of that
connection, through opportunities of referral, and to apprentice on future
cob projects.


To register or ask questions contact Rob:

PHONE: 530-913-0846


Some Past Workshop Photos

Scroll to Top