Sunday, July 17, 2022


Fresh adobe plaster

Mixing mud and conversation

Since the last time I photographed the enjarre or mudding of an adobe church the scaffolding that used to be erected against the mottled earthen walls has been replaced by industrial strength cranes. Last week I asked an aging congregant of San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos when they had modernized the mudding process. He told me it was 8-10 years ago. I commented that the new process loses some of the character of the old ways and feels less like a communal endeavor. He agreed but replied that interest in maintaining the traditions among the younger parishioners was disappointingly low. That was apparent to me. The average age of the few participants in the mudding this year was over 70.  The exceptions were the two men in the bucket who were in their forties. I learned later that they were paid workers. 

Fifteen years ago the enjarre of San José de Gracia in Las Trampas was a full on fiesta with elders and tots, women and men all contributing as a community. It was joyous and welcoming to an Anglo outsider.

Readying the bucket

Two men in a bucket

Man and trowel

Still the timeless process that began in the Middle East took my imaginings back to 1772 when construction began on the most famous Spanish Colonial Mission Church in New Mexico. The iconic iglesia made famous by Adams and O'Keefe among others was completed in 1816.

Adobe was one of the first building materials used by ancient humans to create buildings. The method dates at least as far back as the 8th century BC in Mesopotamia. Etymologists trace the word’s origins to an old Arabic word ai-tob meaning brick.

This post comes to you from a Covid fog that has shrouded Casa Immel for a week now. I limped to the finish line on this one, folks.


Blacks Crossing said...

These are absolutely delicious photographs of the mudding of San Francisco de Asis. Yes, adding technology to the process is unfortunate but probably necessary, as you said, given that the younger folks who have the stamina to do it lack the enthusiasm for it. Either way, stucco or building with adobe bricks is not easy work, and I am glad the grand iglesia has gotten a new coat. And that you were there for part of the process to document enjarre! Thanks, Esteban!

Anonymous said...

Good job, amigo! Get well soon! We are so pleased that our grandsons, Kyle and Westley Casara had an opportunity to join in the enjarrando in Ranchos one summer