Big Bend National Park hosted an adobe workshop in the Castolon Historic District over a three-day period during the last week of January.
Tom Alex, the park’s cultural resource specialist, conducted a half-day orientation, looking at several historic adobe buildings in the Castolon area and talking about historic structure preservation issues. Past successes and failures along with examples of preservation techniques that are not current NPS standards were highlighted.
In the afternoon the adobe making instruction and process began. Fort Davis National Historic Site employees Roy Catano, Jesse Garcia and Julian Garcia, and Big Bend National Park employee Roberto Hernandez instructed the adobe brick building workshop at the historic Alvino House at Castolon. The workshop was attended by several park maintenance staff and other interested people.
The workshop participants worked diligently over the three-day event, dealing with windy days and a lot of mixing mud. The team used an adobe recipe developed for local materials consisting of three parts earth, one-and-a-half parts horse manure, and on part water to form the adobe mixture. The mix was then poured into adobe molds and the bricks were smoothed over.
By the afternoon on the last day, the crew was had made a grand total of 551 full-sized (12”x16”) adobe bricks and 186 half-sized (6”x16”) bricks. The bricks are currently drying and on display outside the historic Alvino House, where they will be stacked and used for future adobe preservation projects.