The Art of Natural Plasters in New Zealand

2023 NEW ZEALAND Workshop

The Art
of Natural Plasters

With Athena Steen and Rose Tuffery


  • Wednesday, November 15, 2023
  • Sunday, November 19, 2023
  • 06:00 PM
  • 05:30 PM


  • Earthbridge , Southern Coromandel Ranges
  • New Zealand


  • $ 850 with all meals and camping
Sorry, this workshop is full, with a waitlist

The Art of Natural Plasters


Sorry this workshop is full, please register on our waiting list to be notified if a space opens up.

A 4-day workshop teaching how to artistically shape walls, create sculptural reliefs and carvings using simple clay & straw mixes.

It will explore the art of sculpted earth plaster, carving/scraffito and coloured clay plastering techniques in a creative environment grounded in sound practical techniques. It will touch on basic clay plastering methods such as how to construct these plaster mixes, how to level a wall and use a hawk and trowel – all techniques that can guide in the creating and sculpting of multiple artistic walls throughout the workshop. 

This will be a small class with limited participants. It is a unique, one-off opportunity to learn from Athena Steen from the Canelo Projectwhile she is in New Zealand. She is internationally known for her abstract clay wall carvings and sculpturesThis is a special paring with Athena and Rose Tufferynatural builder and clay sculptor from Waihi. 

The cost of workshop at $850 includes all meals and camping on-site. A deposit of $400 is required to secure a spot in the workshop. We will send details of how to pay a deposit once you register. Remaining balance is due by Oct 15, 2023. 

This course begins with dinner and introductions on Wednesday evening Nov 15, and ends Sunday, Nov 19 at 5pm, with a dinner and breakfast following morning provided. 

This is an off-site workshop while Athena Steen visits in New Zealand. It will be based at our friends Tim & Vivienne’s site, Earthbridge where they are in the process of finishing multiple natural structures. The workshop will include practicing and plastering on their walls. 
This site is fairly remote and not accessible via public transport. Please let us know if you need help coordinating a ride or are willing to carpool.

Three homemade meals will be provided per day, including coffee and tea. BYO personal beverages and snacks.
Please let us know if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. 

Camping is available on-site, with outdoor bathroom facilities.
Private rooms with queen beds (linen provided) are available. They are $250 for the total workshop (spaces limited). 
There are a few rooms that can accommodate people marae style, with covered mattress provided for $80 total.
Please note your preferences in the registration form.
All people, (those camping as well) are involved in all daily dishes, housework, site maintenance and ultimate clean-up. All Earthbridge prices are in acknowledgment of the gift to art and culture on all levels.

Some plastering tools will be provided, however you must purchase or bring your own Japanese trowel. Below is a list of our essential tools, which you can either bring with you or they will be available for purchasing and use during the workshop. Please let us know which tools you are able to bring.



ATHENA STEEN comes from a family of well-known Native American potters, sculptors and artists.  She grew up building with clay and adobe, and loves sculpting spaces and walls like giant pots. Connecting function and form, she plays with texture, color and line to create beautiful pattern and design. In the early 80’s, she built her first small, off-grid, passive solar house out of straw bales, believing she invented strawbale construction.  Her artistic influence in the world of natural building has been wide-spread.

For over 25 years, as directors of the Canelo Project, she and Bill Steen, have been teaching workshops in strawbale, natural plasters, earthen floors, earthen ovens, straw-clay blocks, domes, vaults, cob, etc. While incorporating many commonsense tools and techniques from other countries, their focus remains on simple, low-cost, low-skill methods that build community.

ROSE TUFFERY is an artist and natural builder based in Waihi on the edge of the beautiful  Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand.

In 2009 she began a love affair with sculpting clay.  She hand builds, delighting in a tactile exploration of the fluid movement she intuitively finds there. Her finished work invites touch.   

With earth building, Rose looks to her surroundings for inspiration and materials. She delights in practical creativity, and building stories into walls. Stories of friendship, jokes, laughter, memories. Special bottles from celebrations. Red clay dug from a roadside ditch with a screwdriver in the rain. Birdnests that blocked a chimney becoming beautiful earth-plastered renovations. 

Special places and memorable connections. Empowerment. Playfulness, creativity, fun.

Rose experiences such a sense of personal peace working with clay – it is where she belongs.    

Earthbridge has a korowai of Native bush, settled high in the landscape we look to stream and Valley below; above-over ridges, the last of the high Maunga on the Coromandel Range are our sentinels.
Here in the Valley the ancient volcanic cone, the Maratoto rock holds space as our guardian. Energy flows here-creatively-energetically from deep within the whenua.
When tangata take time to pause, papatuanuku speaks. 
We have crafted a haven based on earth connections on many levels. 
We invite you to explore- those moved to reconnect, to regather, for respite and rejuvenation of your creative spirit within.  

Watch Athena Steen create a sculpture and carvinG: