Bill and Athena Steen, along with David Bainbridge, wrote The Straw Bale House Book, the breakthrough 1994 book on the subject. It has sold over 120,000 copies. Bill and Athena live at the end of a road an hour south of Tucson, Arizona and not only conduct workshops, but travel throughout the country demonstrating and teaching strawbale construction techniques. A unique specialty of the Steens is plastering with natural materials, using exquisite organic colors. Bill sent me this photo of Athena plastering the inside of an oven. I asked him what they were doing these days and he replied:
“As part of the San Jose (Calif.) Mariachi festival we did a small workshop showing how to build an oven, but didn’t have time to finish. We also redid the earth floor on the inside of an historic old adobe on the same site. This September we’re set up to do an interior clay plastering workshop on the same building.
Canelo Project? Geez, in reality it’s Athena and I doing what we like. Trying to keep building simple, hand-done to the extent that is practical and sensible, inexpensive and of course, making it look really good. Along the way we enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, try to learn from them and in return offer whatever we have to give. And of course, enjoying food and drink together is an essential part of that process. It’s been great having our kids grow up as part of that same way of life. And lastly, when there is time, we love writing about it, photographing and sharing with others all that we’ve learned. Seems like much of what he do has been centered around the border and Mexico although we have a two month tour of Europe this summer.”
Here is the Steen’s website.