The Adobe Builder 2-Day Workshop

San Fransisco de Asis Mission

The Woman Adobe Builder – A Quintessentially Tangible Architectural Experience

2-Day Workshop | June 9th & 10th

A hands-on, tangible experience in the use of adobe with on-site participation in a historical adobe church maintenance project at San Francisco de Asis Mission Church built between 1772 and 1816 located in Rancho de Taos. All guided by the foremost expert in the traditional techniques of the traditional woman builder, or enjarradora, Anita Rodriguez joining her in her hand constructed adobe home in Taos.

June 9th & 10th

Enjarradora is an oral and ancient tradition of adobe building practiced by pueblo and hispanic women. Second only to our magnificent landscape, our adobe architecture gives the southwest its magical beauty. In Spanish, our traditional women builders are called the “enjarradoras.” (En-har-ah-DOOR-ahs) Their history is a metaphor for the historical experience of both Native and Hispanic women. Almost all women were “enjarradoras” –and they kept 1,000 years of architecture standing. These women builders were the finishers, embellishers and maintenance experts of religious and secular architecture preserving most of the oldest buildings in the U.S.

In vernacular, rural earth building cultures worldwide women are the decorators, embellishers, and maintenance experts. Specifically, “enjarradoras” are the plasterers, the builders of the so-called “kiva” fireplaces and the adobe beehive-shaped ovens called “hornos.” One of these technologies is called “alisando” (ah-lee-SAN-dough) and consists of extracting colored clays from the living earth, processing them by hand, and using them to paint and decorate adobe walls.

Anita Rodriguez, a Taos-born Hispanic, was one of the first publishers to illuminate this hidden talent in 1975 when she wrote an article about it in Adobe News. Until the age of 47, when she retired her contractor’s license and became a full-time painter, she owned a construction company that specialized in the techniques of the enjarradora, which she brought up to code, and perfected in the field. Today they are standard practice in the earth building industry and literature. Her self-built adobe home, our workshop site, demonstrates a wide range of techniques and tradition in the use of the material.

New Mexico adobe, like it’s people, is a hybrid – a blend of Native, Spanish and Moorish building modalities. Taos Pueblo is a wonderful example with it’s beehive-shaped ovens known as hornos which originated in the Middle East, immigrated to Spain and then to New Mexico and here in Taos. Along with the practice of forming mud bricks in a wooden mold, hornos were grafted onto the native building technology.

Together Heritage Inspirations and Anita have crafted a 2-Day workshop to tell the story of this old tradition. Offering a tangible hands-on experience participating in a historical Taos tradition, re-mudding the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church while learning the craftsmanship of adobe making and enjoying delicious regional handmade foods in Anita’s adobe home. Come learn of “alisando”, the art of painting the walls with colored clay slips and listen to the stories of Anita’s travels across the world learning of the many cultural techniques of enjarradora.

We offer you the experience of participating in and witnessing living architecture. Here, historical buildings themselves and the communities that live and pray in them still interact in a seasonal cycle of mutual renewal that keeps both the community and the building united and alive. This tour invites you to deepen your pleasure in the richness of our culture, and participate in the process of transforming simple dirt into materials for architectural embellishment. Together we will cultivate an experience that allows you to reimagine your own architectural space.