Increase wood-stove efficiency with bricks and mud: Construction Details & Videos

Increase woodstove efficiency with bricks and mud This is a pretty simple do-it-yourself option for anyone interested in increasing the efficiency of an old (or new!) woodstove. That said, a heater in the home poses serious risks — greater than an outdoor oven, and potentially greater than the old stove …

Lily Gordon, 16, helps build ovens in Tanzania

David S. Cargo, who assembles info about community ovens for the St. Paul Bread Club sent me a link about Lily Gordon, a remarkable young woman, now 16, who has been helping villagers in Tanzania to build ovens so they can make their own bread (previously, bread had to be transported from …

Rainer Warzecha, sculptor, oven mason, collaborator, Germany

Some years ago now, I got an unexpected email from Elke Cole, a German-born architect now living in Canada, whom I had originally met at the first Natural Building Colloquium in Oregon, in the mid 90s. Elke was traveling in Germany, where she’d come across a public art project in …

Ovens, builders, a new (oven) book for German readers

Ian, Iantha, oven
Out of the blue one day I got a phone call from a guy named Ian Miller. He said he had built a few ovens, baked a fair amount of bread, was married to an Austrian and (among other things) interested in translating Build Your Own Earth Oven into German. With that began an adventure that is now resulting in a new (German!) edition of the book, published by Stocker Verlag, out of Austria (they also publish Austrian permaculturist Sepp Holzer, which makes it even more of an honor). Very interesting to let go of the book and let someone else take it all apart and put it all back together again in a language I can’t read or speak. But in the process of doing it, I realize there are some good stories I haven’t yet shared — not about translation and books, but about ovens and their people. So, while it’s late (especially in terms of giving credit where it’s due for previous projects) I hope this will be a start.

New Community Oven in New Jersey

orange new jersey mud dancers
HANDS stands for Housing and Neighborhood Development Services. They work out of Orange, New Jersey to try and reclaim dilapidated houses and other “eyesore properties,” and return them to the neighborhood as affordable homes and community assets. They also work with individual people and neighborhoods, and are creating an Arts District in a former industrial area called the Valley…. “It started as a dream idea of our Executive Director, Pat Morrissy: ‘Let’s build a community outdoor, wood fired oven where people can bring bread and pizza dough to bake together outside!’ The idea caught on and the Earth Oven was begun.”

Adjusting mass for optimal performance

Here’s a valuable perspective on the benefits of smaller, easier, cheaper, “faster-cooling” ovens, and a working baker’s comparison w/the classic Alan Scott brick oven design (which isn’t always the best option for someone who wants to start small and simple).

The baker is Noah Elbers, who runs a small bakery in New Hampshire. There are some nice photos of him and his oven(s) on the web, but he’s clearly spending his time in the bakery rather than on the computer — hurrah! He does participate in the brickoven group on yahoogroups, which is where this comment came from.

It is worth noting that Noah fired his 4-5 inch thick cob oven for 5-6 hours every day and used it to run a business. For home-bakers who only use their ovens weekly or less, I’m now recommending just 3″ of thermal mass, and as much insulation as you can manage.