Walls Au Naturel: Learn the Art of Making and Applying Clay Plasters & Paints

Walls Au Naturel: Learn the Art of Making and Applying Clay Plasters & Paints!

Dreaming about turning your living space (massage studio, yoga space, children’s bedroom) into an eco sanctuary? Clay is the ultimate in natural: unique, comfortable and stylish, and best of all, has an extremely low environmental impact.


  • Learn how to turn simple ingredients, clay and sand into plaster and then use a ‘hawk & trowel’ to apply it to create artful walls.
  • 2 certified instructors.
  • Recipes. This is the equivalent of working with two professional chefs, and then getting to take home their secret recipes that they have developed over years of trial and error.
  • A take home sample board to show off your new skills.
  • Learn about natural pigments & how to use them
  • Learn about the creative opportunities that abound when working with natural materials: this includes finishing techniques, and fun ingredients like mica and chopped straw.
  • Lunch and refreshments included. We take pride in hosting workshops in style, so we aim to feed you well, paying attention to things like local, and organic.
Why You:
  1. You care how your actions affect the planet, and you know about all the chemicals and toxins in most paint products, but you want to update your home.
  2. You value and celebrate creativity, and want to bring that into your home.
  3. You like to feel empowered doing things yourself: this is an old world skill that has so many modern applications.

Clay plasters allow you to experience the beauty and benefits of natural building. They can be applied to any wall surface, including drywall (painted or new), and offer the perfect solution for those wanting to bring the benefits of natural building into a conventional home. This course is a unique opportunity, as we will be working on a straw bale house, so we’ll be applying these finishes over a natural wall system substrate, as well as the more familiar and conventional drywall.


Clay more dimensional then  conventional paint, and is so much more satisfying to work with. In this two day hands on workshop, we will teach you how to make plaster, and the ‘hawk and trowel’ application method.

To answer some questions you are probably thinking about:

  • Yes, clay plasters can easily be applied over drywall!

  • It is also durable and wipeable (to some extent). We will go over some techniques you can use to get the most out of your plaster, including a simple casein (milk protein) wash.

  • It can be any colour you want it to be

  • It is easy to repair – in fact easier than conventional paint. We’ll give you our expert tips

We will be applying both American Clay pre-bagged plasters, as well as making a variety of homemade plasters and paints (alis) from easily obtainable, affordable natural materials. And these are no mud walls! They can be made to any taste and can be applied in a vast range of colours and textures.


Clay plasters and paints add a quality that is unobtainable with any other finish. They are inherently beautiful, help to regulate humidity, and are completely non-toxic. They are durable and easily repaired, and the best way to make your home warmer, healthier and simply more pleasant.

Visit our resource page dedicated to clay plasters for more information.

In this workshop you will learn how to prepare surfaces for plastering, how to source required materials and ingredients, mix and colour plasters and paints, and apply them to wall surfaces. We’ll also cover tool selection (Heather loves working with the refined Japanese trowels that you will have an opportunity to use, as she feels like the Japanese have got it right: a trowel that fits a smaller stature and enhances delicate nuances, also they fit her smaller hands)  and you’ll have the opportunity to create a sample board of colours and textures that you can take home for your own project.

“This course was taught with so much passion that learning came easily.  After only two full workshop days I could actually leave with my newly acquired knowledge and skills to create something beautiful on my own in my own home.  Now that’s a course worth taking!

Thanks Ashley and Heather!”

Bonnie Hamilton, Student

(Since taking this course last year, Bonnie has been inspired to have an earthen floor installed in her home, build a cob bench in her garden, and experiment with her own clay plaster projects)

We will be working on walls to achieve a finished product, and also work on sample boards for some expierementation.


This workshop is open to anyone interested in transforming their current home into a warmer, healthier place in style. Or if you are dreaming of using clay plasters on a straw bale, light-clay straw, earthship, or cob home in the future.

Clay Plaster vs. Clay Paint?

Well, the big difference is the thickness. And the application technique. And clay paints rely on a strong bonder, like wheat paste, for their strength, whereas clay plasters rely on the qualities of clay to do the bonding work. This means that there is a lot more clay present in a plaster, giving you the most possible benefit of having clay in you home: like humidity regulation, noise buffering, and odour absorption. There are also more creative techniques to finish a clay plaster wall because it is applied more thickly, and the art of using a ‘hawk & trowels’ opens up seemingly endless possibilities. Clay paint is beneficial because it is easy to make and apply (you can use a regular paintbrush), like clay plasters it uses sustainable, healthy, ingredients, but it is the most accessible way to use clay for a wall finish.

For more visuals, check out our clay plaster & paints gallery here.

Investment: $165

What You Get:

  • 2 certified instructors
  • The opportunity to make mistakes (not on your walls!) under guided supervision, meaning you can take your skills home with you, and be confident in the undertaking of your own project!
  • Recipes. Again, this is the equivalent of working with two professional chefs, and then getting to take home their secret recipes that they have developed over years of trial and error. But unlike a soup recipe, you can’t get the ingredients for clay plaster at the local grocery store (well, some of the ingredients you can!), so we help you out by sharing our keenly sought out sources too.
  • Take home sample board to show off to your friends or spouse who couldn’t make it
  • Lunch and refreshments. We take pride in hosting workshops in style, so we aim to feed you well, paying attention to things like healthy & local for our ingredients.

The above is a photo of the house we will be working on. Dirt Craft worked with the owner builders of this home to put in their straw bale wall system, as well as to formulate their earthen plaster recipes from clay found on-site. This course will give you some insight to how natural plasters make a great match for a natural wall system, you will be able to see the systems the Jones’ have devised for living in a natural home, including how clay plasters provide thermal mass to support a comfortable temperature range inside the home.


Discounts available: Register 2 or more people in the same order and save 10% on the total order. All Dirt Craft Alumni receive 10% off anytime they take another course.

Location: This workshop will be held on a site, 1/2 hour North East of Saskatoon (near Aberdeen).

Time: Workshop will run 9am to 5pm on the Saturday, and 9am to 4pm on the Sunday.

Date: May 18th & 19th 2013

Maximum class size: 12

Extra! Extra: A Cob Oven Social on the Saturday Night:

Mike (our workshop host) and his family are pleased to to be hosting a Cob Oven Social for all students on the Saturday evening, so you’ll be able to hang out after class for some wood fired pizza. They are asking for a you-decide-donation to cover some of the costs of the pizzas. Looking forward to sharing making new friends over a slice. Cheers!

About The Instructors: Both Ashley and Heather are passionate about using clay paints and plasters to enhance the health, feel, and beauty of any space. Over the past 5 years, they have worked with a wide variety of clay paints and plasters on several continents and learned from some of the leading natural plaster teachers. Read more about them and the story of Dirt Craft here. They enjoy working with homemade plasters using local clays and aggregates, as well as premanufactured products like American Clay. Ashley and Heather are American Clay trained and certified applicators

Review our cancellation policy here.

**Please note that we send out specific course information to all registered participants about a week prior to workshop date which includes directions & location, and a brief reminder of what to expect, and what to bring. When you register online, we save your contact information, for our records only (we respect your privacy, and would never sell it to a third party!). If you would rather bypass PayPal (you don’t have to have a PayPal account to use our online registration service), we gladly except cash or cheques over credit card payment. Payment is still required in advance to reserve your spot. Please call us if you would like to pursue this option, 403-700-2629. Thanks!

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