Saturday, December 17, 2011

Project Gingerbag House

In the Earthbag Building book, it's suggested that one make a model of one's house before attempting to build it.  While the idea intrigued me when I read it, I didn't seriously considering making a model of the Enviro Dome I'm going to build until this holiday season, when it occurred to me to make one out of gingerbread.

Since my house will consist of domes, I decided that I would construct my gingerbread model in the same way you make a clay coil pot, which would be similar to using earthbag tubing.  I looked around online to see if anyone else has made a gingerbread house this way, and while I didn't find any, I did find a few gingerdomes that were constructed in other ways, such as this geodesic one:  (The image is password protected, so I couldn't copy it in.) I also found a really cool site that features "green" gingerbread houses

I wanted to make the model as close to scale as possible, and I used plastic yogurt container lids of two different sizes as my templates.  They weren't precisely the right diameters, but close enough. 

I started forming the first "course" of "tubes" around the templates,


 but then realized I needed to place them on a base.

I used Jolly Ranchers topped by half a Life Saver for my door forms, and planned on removing them for the baking process, then putting them back in afterwards as the actual doors.

Justin was really good at making the "tubes,"

which I then moistened and stacked, trying to bring each "course" in just enough to get the corbelled dome effect.  Once the domes were finished, I removed the candy doors and replaced them with a tin foil form.

Into the oven went the house.  When it came out, it looked like this:


I had suspected this might happen, but other than the fact that I couldn't do my cotton candy berm now, I really didn't mind.  The purpose of this experiment was more about going through the process of creating the domes, rather than having some perfect finished product. 

In retrospect, building the gingerdome this way was more like building with cob than with earthbags.  And like cob, which needs to dry between building sessions, I should have baked a few "courses" at a time, just enough to give it some solidity before adding more.

Graeme and I were standing over the blob, gazing at it rather forlornly, when he said, "Wait!"  He turned the baking sheet around, and said, "Look - it's a perfect troll face."  And indeed it was.

Well, it wasn't quite what I'd had in mind, but who was I not to go with the flow?

That was one tasty face.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Things always seem to work out...don't they??? It's gonna be fun following your blog... Merry Christmas

  2. A cotton candy berm? I love how your mind works!

  3. turquoisemoon - Thanks for finding me :) Yes, things always do work out one way or another, but it's definitely a matter of looking at things from another perspective to see the positive sometimes.

    Deonne - I was sooo looking forward to doing the berm. Oh well. My kids were very happy to put the cotton candy to other uses - inside their mouths.

  4. Delightful, Polli! And yummy too, I'm sure!

  5. This is great, I love that you set out to learn something from making gingerbread, and that you did learn something from it!

    Wishing you a marvellous 2012, X

  6. Gwen - You're right! There is something ET about that face, isn't there?

    Claire - Yes, quite yummy :)

    Eryl - Thanks! Same to you :)