Wooden Sculpture

The tall cedar piece I just finished for a friend who had experimented with growing wheat; she asked for a vertical sculpture to fit a space in front of her house. All the grasses were just coming up when I started, so my model was a very early stage of growth when the first leaves are just unfurling. I started w/out drawings, which meant that when I needed a second look, the grasses had advanced to a completely different stage, and I had to work from memory and imagination. The piece of cedar was probably cut from an old snag by a local homesteader, sometime in the early 1900s, and split into a post that held up a barn.…

Oven dome height for different size ovens

In the space of two days, I got two emails from people asking the exact same question. So here’s clarification, which I’ll have to include in the next printing! Thanks to those who wrote…

“Typical dome height” is 16” (p. 51). Some pizza ovens are lower because they’re used exclusively for pizza, which means they can have a low door without losing the 63% ratio of dome to door height — and they don’t have to worry about getting a turkey through the door.

The previous edition didn’t specify an ideal height, and in fact, a high domed oven will work — the traditional southwestern horno is typically quite high.…

new commercial oven at CSA farm

Here’s a new commercial oven at Gathering Together Farm, a small farm/CSA restaurant in Philomath, Oregon, with cooks JC and Lisa posing with tools. This is a super-insulated design, with an external basket frame covered w/clay-slip-soaked burlap and insulating (sawdust-clay) plaster. When dry, the open cavity was filled w/loose perlite for insulation. The thermal layer is the standard clay/sand mix, covered with a cardboard expansion gap/thermal break (see the oven-fuel-firing-times-and-insulation post), and a layer of sawdust-clay insulation. Then about a 6″ space, and the final covered frame. The base is a stout metal box. Less well insulated ovens are typically barely warm on the outside after hours of firing, so I’m expecting this one to hold its heat really well.…

oven journal: details of fire & food

My oven journal, such as it is, follows. It includes how we went about preparing several big holiday meals, as well as other details that may be of interest if you’ve just built an oven and you’re not quite sure what to do with it. Or maybe it will all read like so much unintelligible shorthand. (If so, please accept apologies. I’ve posted a summary of what I learned as a separate item, under the title “oven fuel, firing times, & insulation.”)

Of course, once you realize that your oven will cook anything, the best inspiration will be in your garden, pantry, farmer’s market, or grocery store.…

oven fuel, firing times, and insulation

A couple of years ago, I decided to try and keep a bit better track of my oven’s performance. In particular, I was interested in seeing how much wood I was burning compared to how much bread and other cooking we were getting out of it. My data is neither consistent nor precise, but the exercise has been useful, if only as a good excuse to focus my attention on what I was seeing and doing.

I’ve posted my “oven journal” separately; it includes specifics of each oven firing, including how much fuel I used, how long I fired, what we cooked, and how long the oven held the temps, but being as I was always doing several other things on bake day, the records didn’t have enough hard data to be useful in any scientific way.…

cob ovens on trailers

“I was wondering if you might have any info or resources for cob oven on trailers?”

Here’s my thoughts and experience, over and above what’s already in Build Your Own Earth Oven:

I wouldn’t try to put a cob or earthen oven on a trailer myself. I do know of one guy who did but he had to do repairs on the oven before the year was out but I haven’t heard from him since, so don’t know the whole story of his oven. Maybe it’s doing just fine. It’s hard to imagine that unfired earth would be able to withstand prolonged exposure to road vibration without serious cracking and ultimate failures.…

waterglass for binding earthen surfaces & pigment

“Waterglass” for protection & paint Waterglass has become my preferred binder in places where it’s needed. The chemical name is sodium or potassium silicate. It’s an inert mineral compound similar to window glass, but under heat and pressure, it’s soluble in water. I beauty get it from a ceramic supplier for $9 a gallon. It’s clear, viscous, and pours like heavy cream. It dries into a clear, brittle substance cheap jerseys that crushes to a fine powder, wholesale mlb jerseys but it has significant binding power, and is used in some refractory cements, as well as numerous other industrial applications.

I’ve only discovered it in the past few years, so I’m still learning, but it has made murals possible in less protected areas where I might not have risked it before.…

2008 – earth, ovens, BREAD, art! workshops

Hands-on workshops on wood-fired earthen ovens, good bread, natural plasters & practical sculpture; offered für by Kiko Denzer, and others, as noted.

If you can make mud pies, you can build with earth. Good material is often underfoot. Practical, beautiful, dirt cheap, and faster than you think, mud is also sculptural, colorful, and rich, whether you make ovens, benches, garden walls, or houses. And you can do it with your kids! “Mud ovens” were the original masonry ovens (brick is, after all, fired clay). These ovens bake beautiful bread (and anything else), and perform as well as the fancy $4,000 Italian ones.…