Spanish for Artisan, is defined as: A skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft. Artisans were the dominant producers of goods before the Industrial Revolution. The word Artesano can also be used as an adjective to describe something that is handmade.
My name is Ryan Chivers,
I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. At a young age, I began to work with a small family owned drywall finishing company who were well known in town for being the most exacting, high quality artisans in the trade. We stood out as drywall finishers because we used hawks and trowels to do all of our mud work. Most all of the drywall finishing that is done today is done with automated taping and coating tools that have little in common with the subtle skill of applying mud by hand. The hawk and trowel are the traditional tools of the plasterer, they have been used for hundreds of years to apply all types of plaster. To gain proficiency with a hawk and trowel and be truly skilled in their use takes a lot of practice.
During my time as a drywall finisher, I had the life changing opportunity to spend two summers in the coastal temperate rain forest in British Columbia Canada. I was part of a project conducting scientific research. Our efforts were to document biodiversity in an ecosystem that continues to be pushed toward extinction by irresponsible and short sighted clearcut logging practices.
It was not long before I realized that one of the main reasons that these giant ancient trees were being cut down at such an alarming rate was to feed our voracious residential construction industry, which exclusively uses softwood timber resources for a huge percentage of its building materials. Right down to the paper that is used to make sheetrock.
When I returned from BC I was determined to put my energy in an alternative direction.
I moved to Boulder CO in search of some progressive outlet. It was not long before I learned that a strawbale building company was in operation in Boulder. I took a job with them and after learning a bit about plaster and natural building materials, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
I soon went out on my own, and over the years, have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on all kinds of projects using all kinds of natural materials, all the while reading, experimenting and researching. Learning all I can about the technology and skills in the use of earth lime straw and gypsum. Materials that have been used in some form to create beautiful, long lasting, culturally meaningful shelter by nearly every human civilization on earth.
It is my intention to keep this knowledge alive. I am always delighted to see so many people who are interested in actually looking backward for answers on the right way to build. Technology and progress have brought us extremely energy intensive buildings that are slapped together. Made of plastic and veneer, they are giving us cancer, warming the earth, and lining the pockets of huge corporations who profit from manufacturing low quality materials and exploiting cheap immigrant labor to put them together.
I believe we can choose a different
path, and maybe create a little artwork while we re at it.