Earth Oven variant: insulation in a basket over jumping bricks!

Insulate! Insulate! Insulate! This oven gets used about 5 days a week, so it never cools down — partly thanks to 11″ of insulation under the hearth (vertical wine bottles in perlite), and about 8″ of loose perlite over the dome (poured into a basket made of bamboo covered in clay/plaster soaked burlap and mud). I built it for a local CSA farmstand restaurant (gathering together farm). The whole story (build and repair) follows, complete w/photos of making our own bricks and laying them up from the inside out!

The oven started in a public workshop; folks came to make mud and learn and we built the basic oven in a weekend.…

Build Your Own Barrel Oven Book!

Hand Print Press has published a new book about a hybrid style of wood-fired oven called a Barrel Oven!

Build Your Own Barrel Oven A Guide for Making a Versatile, Efficient, and Easy to Use Wood-Fired Oven

The tools for a sustainable future continue to grow! In this book, Max and Eva Edleson offer a comprehensive guide for planning and building a practical, efficient and affordable wood-fired oven. The Barrel Oven offers surprising convenience because it is hot and ready to bake in within 15-20 minutes and is easy to maintain at a constant temperature.   It can be the seed for a small-scale baking enterprise or the heart of a community’s wood-fired cuisine.…

Hawaiian School Garden oven

Mud ovens in Hawaii:

“These bricks, stacked and left to dry for about 2.5 weeks, are the start of a future earth oven at the campus’ Ulumau School Garden. The oven will be used by HPA (Hawaii Preparatory Academy) students, staff and their ohana to bake breads and pizzas, as well as to cook vegetables grown on site, said Koh Ming Wei, HPA’s sustainability curriculum facilitator.”

“HPA’s Hawaiian studies teacher Kuwalu Anakalea appreciated how the process included everyone’s mana. For her, the oven will serve more than tantalizing delectables. It cooks up a sense of community and value for building techniques by indigenous cultures, she said.”…

Cob oven ‘zine from Jorie Kennedy and Lizzy Rieke

Below notes and gifts from Jorie Kennedy, who I met when she was apprenticing at the North American School of Natural Building, last year (2011). You don’t need a book to make an oven. Best is a friend who’s built one, but for friends she hasn’t met yet, Jorie put her oven love into this “hot-n-dirty oven lovin guide.”

Here are the notes she sent about it:

“My beautiful friend Lizzy (Rieke) and I (Jorie Kennedy) wrote this zine on how to make your own basic cob (earthen) oven.

“We dream of offering natural building, carpentry, and metal working skills to communities that don’t have easy access to them.…

Roberto Monge’s Oven Story

Roberto Monge’s father – Alfredo Del Transito Monge Menjivar – grew up dirt poor in a jungle village in El Salvador, one of 8 surviving children in a family of 14. By good luck and hard work, he earned a law degree, found paying work, got married and started a family. I didn’t know him, but according to his son Roberto, the elder Monge felt indebted to his campesino roots; when he had to choose between a military dictatorship or a revolutionary people’s movement, he chose the latter, later assuming the position of Attorney General of the Poor in the revolutionary government.…

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 so far that it would often be inedible when it arrived).

At the age of 11, Lily Gordon started raising funds for the village of Shirati, Tanzania. For her 11th birthday, instead of gifts, she asked her friends to bring money for the children of Shirati. The party raised $1,300.…

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 a park in Berlin. It was full of earthen sculptures made by a German artist named Rainer Warzecha. At the time, I was collecting stories and photos to expand a little pamphlet about earthen art projects (Dig Your Hands in the Dirt). But most of what I had were small scale projects: benches, ovens, and things made with kids in schools.…

Ian Miller, baker, oven builder, translator

Ian Miller’s oven story (adapted from his translator’s note for the German edition of Build Your Own Earth Oven):

I saw my first earthen oven in Santa Cruz, California, where I was studying Agroecology. The fellow student who built it had a small bread business selling bread that he baked in it. My studies in Santa Cruz led to an internship on a biodynamic farm in Austria and there I got to know whole-grain sourdough bread and learned to bake it. I eventually learned that this bread was best out of a wood-fired oven but since I had never built anything in my life at that point, I couldn’t imagine affording or building a brick oven myself.…

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

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.…

New Community Oven in New Jersey

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. A recent Google Alert brought in notice of a new community oven they built, and the following story from their quarterly report:

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.