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07-Nov-2012 [7431]

Part of Building Codes

Dismantling the cob fireplace
Dismantling the cob fireplace...
Jenny takes off the plaster

From the June 2009 Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter:

In mid-May it seemed that the water for the playground (including the cob courtyard) wouldn’t be turned on until the wading pool renovation was done. With Councillor Giambrone’s intervention, that decision was changed. Having water at the cob sinks meant the snack bar could open on weekends, and the kids could resume their engineering practice, making rivers and dams in the sandpit. (Park friend Simon Evans put the taps back on, which he has been faithfully doing every spring for four years, and the City plumbers, Tom Feeney and Eugene Kenny, reconnected the water heater).

Having water also made the yearly cob repair easier. The counter was scrubbed and broken shingles were replaced on the top of the wall. The dysfunctional fireplace was removed (by Jenny Cook, with help from Heidrun Gabel-Koepff). Jenny found that the top part of the fireplace was inhabited by a big ant colony, which was not fun when she was chipping away at the cob during removal. She wondered if the whole cob wall had been colonized, but it turned out to be a very limited section only. (The world contains many more insects than people…)

Next on the cob maintenance list is rebuilding the wall where the fireplace was, and re-plastering the cob benches where the plaster has given way. Heidrun is the main experimenter, trying out new recipes for earth-based plaster that work in a cold climate. This year she plans to try adding 8% cement powder, to see what happens. She and Jenny will be holding workshops to rebuild the cob wall, in July. To take part and learn how to cob, talk to the summer park staff or contact