Hug Hut at Muddy Creek School, Philomath

Muddy Creek charter school in Philomath 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 …

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.

Teaching with Mud, Sand, and Straw

Working with mud, sand, and straw is a way to teach geology, engineering, physics, history, drawing, composition, and design. It is also a way to teach social skills, like cooperation. But more important than just what it teaches is how it teaches: Jon Young is a wilderness educator who takes …