Tuesday, July 19, 2011

making our own fun

Last weekend I helped build a clay oven, in hopes of using it during our upcoming Living History Week. We've had ovens from time to time, the first being built of broken bricks on site, covered over with clay and straw then disassembled with a hammer at event's end, the later one being built of clay over a tall basket and fired by burning the basket inside it. That one lasted a couple of years but was a bit delicate for moving back and forth to the site. Eventually its makers smashed it up cathartically.
After that we did without. But an oven is such a handy thing to have, and opens so many possibilities, that the idea was never quite given up. At last Joan bought clay and offered her patio as an assembly site, and Ina, fresh from a course on cob-building, offered her expertise.
I brought the basket.

Here Ina directs her two lovely assistants in preparing the sand-and-clay cob mix.

After the base has been covered in clay, the inner frame of the oven is established. Rowan is eagerly squishing clay into a sheet to begin covering it.

Halfway up with the first layer. Ina works up more clay and sand. We covered the frame with an inch-and-a-bit of cob mixture, then left it overnight. The next day we painted it with slip, then added a thinner layer of cob mixed with short-cut straw.

Some decoration to the top, as with some of the English examples, in a rope-twist pattern, and the youngsters could not be deterred from painting it over with slip once more.
It has to dry for a couple of weeks before we even think about firing it. We'd like to be able to put on a hand-cart and wheel it around, but we might have to settle for standing it on a couple of trestles.


Terri-Lynne said...

That is SO COOL!!! I want to build a clay oven so badly. I don't think Pharoh's Tomb was erected when you were here in 2007, was it? It was supposed to be an outdoor pizza oven/grill and instead became Pharoh's Tomb upon which we sacrifice meats and sometimes vegetables...a very expensive charchol grill. The thing is a monster. It LOOKS like a fireplace, but it's really just an oversized charchol grill with granite countertops. I really want to enclose the top part, build a chimney and make it into a real, working outdoor oven.

Sigh...time and money. Time and money...

batgirl said...

I do remember a massive barbecue, and a good story about how it came to be made.
And yes, I agree that you need an oven. You could do pizza and everything. I should see if I can find plans for doing a big brick oven on the cheap...

Jamie said...

Hi - I apologize, this is completely off topic and out of the blue, but I couldn't seem to find an email link for you anywhere so had to comment here.

I saw your post in a forum on Absolute Write (I think) about Basket Case Publishing. You mentioned they look "like a micropress set up to publish the founder's book". What gives you this impression? And have you learned or heard anything further about them? I'm in Regina and curious to learn more about them but they're a bit of an enigma (I found your comment via a Google search).

Thanks - Jamie

Jamie said...

Sorry, forgot to mention... please reply to shaggy108 at hotmail dott com. I'd appreciate any thoughts you could share. Thanks.

bookherder said...

I think I have a pattern for a brick oven. In one of the 'Cloudburst'books. I can check, if you're interested. AIR, it requires a lot of bricks.

batgirl said...

If you could, I'd be interested, though for my brother (who's thinking of building a bread oven on his property) rather than for myself. We do have a whacking lot of bricks, though, from taking down the chimney long ago.