Posts Tagged clay

Another Pizza Oven Build

Last year at the bushmoot I was intending to build an earth pizza oven.  As the area is built on sand dunes, sand was not going to be a problem.  Clay on the other hand was.  I ended up walking to the river, digging and finding… sand!  So this time I came prepared with some readily dug clay and some from a local potter.



We dug in a load of sand from literally next to the tarp.  Two young girls did most of the work, the rest of us mucked in only when the camera was showing!



For the base, we used wooden logs – these were chopped from a timber pile.  About 3ft long, they were notched so they wouldn’t roll.  We used a tarp to stop the sand running through the bottles onto the floor.  We laid bottles, then tucked the tarp over the bottles and layered sand over the tarp to both hold it in place and give us a firm bed for the fire bricks.  We then built the sand form over the top.



Sand form getting there.  All done with eye.



Layered a copy of the metro over the top and wetted ready for the oven clay mix.




Clay being built up around the form.  This was done quite quickly and inside you could see the cracks where it wasn’t bonded quite as well as it could be.



Smack the finished dome with a big stick.



Straw dipped in clay slip and layered on.  Door is cut.



Add another layer of clay with added straw for stability over the top – just a thin layer.



Add decoration and immediately light!



Used an arrow as a blow pipe




The front did dip a little, but still worked fine 🙂




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Earth oven version 2

Three days of digging, sand shuffling and sculpting is done. Read more to see the results!

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Clay content


Determining your clay content is fairly simple, all you need is a pickle jar or similar, some clay and some water!

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Pizza with Friends

My friends Chad and Tanya visited this weekend (bringing a range of beer and cider) mainly to try some of my pizza and experience the delights of “The Man Cave” cinema experience – though we made so much pizza (probably about 20 or so) we never actually got round to doing much in the way of cinema viewing.  Chad has pointed out I need a wifi baby monitor so I can sit out in the garden without worrying to much about my baby to be.

As you can see from the above image the insulation on the pizza oven doesn’t really survive the burns I’ve been doing.  It should really be encapsulated in a lime render – similarly the large cracks that have formed correspond to the large cracks in the oven itself.  It’s pretty much had it and we’re intending on rebuilding it soon.  I think the only real way to do it is to have everyone over stomping some mud for the new oven, offer them pizza from the old then rebuild it the next day.  We pretty much know how much we need (a lot!) and if we make enough screened material without pointy stones in it it should be an easy process.

At least I know what’s wrong with the current oven – we just didn’t use anywhere near enough sand in it!

Pics below


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Just found I have a gallery feature, so if you’re subscribing via RSS, you may be annoyed by this… 

One thing I didn’t take a picture of yesterday was the assembling of the scaffolding boards for the raised bed.  Basically I left a small part of my plot to my friend to plant in.  Two months later, she’s just about broken the surface, but it needed a lot more work, ie double digging.

This meant a six hour digging marathon where I started by emptying about 2ft of soil onto a black pond liner I had lying about.  I then dug in soil improver and fresh manure (because that’s what was available) to try and break up the clay (see pics one and three – the clay was coming out in huuuuge lumps and the first pic shows the black soil improver)

The result was the beds volume was raised by the same height as the scaffolding boards – almost a foot.  Shows how compressed the clay way, now it’s broken up and I’ve dug in some drainage I hope to grow things other than weeds  in it this year.

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