Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves YOU Can Build

This book is the second edition to Rocket Stoves to Heat Cob Buildings published by Cob Cottage Company. Drawings, descriptions and photos are improved and added to. This time, they provide more clear instruction on the brick assembly, the part of building rocket stove that is all in the design, and mechanically somewhat baffling until you actually do it a few times. The case studies and color photos will get you thinking about the possibilities, and there are extended Troubleshooting and Question-and-Answer sections. The Glossary is still practically non-existent, testament to how simple this is.

From the Introduction, by Ianto Evans:

“Here is a superefficient wood fired heater you can build for yourself in a weekend for less than a hundred dollars.…

A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity

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Winner of The Nautilus Award 2004 in Ecology/Environment, Honoring Distinguished Literary Contribution to Conscious Living and Positive Social Change.

If you believe in “learning by doing,” here is my personal recommendation for an important book to add to your Library. — Kiko Denzer

William Coperthwaite lives in one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever stepped into – it also happens to be the only round house I’ve ever been in that really works. He has filled it with many wonderful things he has made, by hand, or books about things that others have made. Perhaps most surprisingly beautiful was the hand made scotch tape dispenser that sat on his writing desk.…

Build Your Own Earth Oven

More about Build Your Own Earth Oven:

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This brand new, completely re-written edition features:

revised text: updated, expanded, and completely re-organized so as to simplify the making of a super-insulated design that holds heat longer and burns less fuel; as well as a simplified, 4-step recipe for making really good (wholegrain) sourdough bread – written by Hannah Field, a former professional baker who has worked in wood fired and organic bakeries on both sides of the Atlantic (also the author’s wife). Also: a foreword by Alan Scott, grandfather of wood-fired ovens and artisan bread, co-author (with Dan Wing) of The Bread Builders, and an inspiration to many aspiring artisans; an 8-page color gallery of beautiful ovens sculpted both by the author, as well as readers who wanted to share their work; innovations and variations, like mobile ovens, super-efficient “rocket” ovens, hay-box cookers, and more.…

Two-tier yurt with Bill Coperthwaite

Here’s the lovely, two-tier yurt that Bill Coperthwaite helped us build in October of ’09. (And here are my followup explorations that adapted the design by going back to traditional sticks and basket as well as incorporating earthen plasters — simpler to build, and better performance and comfort in wetter climates.) 

It’s on the grounds of the Ancient Arts Center near Alsea, just a long leap over a couple of ridges, into the next drainage south of us (the Alsea River). We finished the woven willow and mud walls in May of ’09. If you want to come help, we’ll be having more workshops (see http://www.ancientartscenter.com for more info).…

A Work of Art: Rediscovering a Way of Working for Beauty

Stories and lessons learned about the hows and whys of living by a traditional understanding of art — not as object, but as activity, as a way of life. Included are essays about principles of design, measure, and proportion, as well as social and economic aspects of working as an artist — earning money, working for community, teaching, learning…. You can read it in it’s entirety below, and download it free or buy a paper copy ($20, full color, w/photos) through the bookstore. There’s also a forum at theworkofart.org.

The ideas aren’t new but, like seeds, they must be adapted to each environment, and they only live on if we plant, tend, harvest, and share them: We engage in the work of art when we fit our unique and individual selves into a whole life and landscape, into our communities, into our common stories.…

ovens and efficiency

Dear Oven builders, mud teachers, bakers, and eaters:

I would like to talk to you about some of the claims being published about the efficiency of earthen ovens.

I think we need to be clear that any masonry oven, whether it’s made of unfired earth or fired brick, is not, by definition, a “fuel efficient appliance” – especially if it isn’t insulated.

There are more and less efficient ways to work with an oven, and some of them make quite good use of the wood burnt in them, but in my experience, those ways don’t apply to people who just want to cook a few pizzas, or a few loaves of bread, or perhaps a holiday turkey.…

stix ‘n mud can make a hug

A new charter school in Corvallis commissioned this mud project as the initial step in creating an “outdoor classroom.” All 60 kids, K-5, participated in 2 days of playdough brainstorming and design, and six days of mud. Parents and neighbors contributed random prunings of willow, fruitwood, and forsythia that we wove into a rough hut; the mud came up out of a hole in the ground, and we ended up making a lovely cob bench and this “hug hut.” Â

The hut is intended to be temporary. It will probably “last” for at least one winter, but my hope is that teachers and parents will replace or augment academically defined “art curriculae” with a culture of creativity, where every year, individual students not only get to “express themselves” and “make things,” but where all the citizens of the school will share in re-making the school into a warm, inviting place to be and to learn—rather than the cold, factory-like institutions that we’ve inherited from industrialized systems thinking.…

Jumping bricks, or: inside out oven building

I built this oven for a local CSA farmstand restaurant (gathering together farm). We held a public workshop; folks came to make mud and learn and we built the basic oven in a weekend. BUT! (and this was my fault for not watching more closely), the dome came out a little flat. Usually, when it’s not quite right, I tell folks, “OK, time to tear down and rebuild.” This is a great way to conquer the fear of doing it wrong—

and it’s the only way to prove to folks the truth of my favorite oven-building adage: “the second time is easier and faster.” But I let myself be convinced that the dome was adequately curved.…

We The People vs The Western Diet

I just finished reading In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. Part of my pleasure in reading it was remembering my grandmother, Evelyn Sayre Norton, and meals at her table — the eggs she fried in bacon grease, the lamb fat she savored, and the produce she brought back from local farmers for whom she saved and recycled her shopping bags — long before anyone would give you a nickel credit for such things. Eating this way, she lived into her 90s.

I also appreciated the methodical way in which Pollan justified choices I have made because, well, probably because I am happier eating with the memory of my grandmother — and her local farmer friends — than I am eating at the industrial cafeteria.…

wheat harvest

boys, their cousins (and Uncle) from England all helping — for a few minutes, at least. Won’t know yields until I get the grain threshed and winnowed. It looks better than the past few efforts, but still not the 300 pounds I was aiming for when I fenced off the 3,000 sq. ft.…