Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cob Oven Reveal

As my ol' pal and prodigal son, Ix, noted in the comments section of my last post - and by the way, Ix, I'm glad to see the money you invested in finishing school is paying off - the rough sketch of the fledgling cob oven on display in my last post was somewhat baffling.  Agreed.  I've been able to see it in my head since I started stacking rocks, but there's no reason to believe anyone else could have.

Well, ponder no more!  It isn't completely finished (I still have to do the finish plaster and finish building the shed over it) but it is now a legitimate oven, fired dry and hard, 6" thick dome, with a few tasty pizzas under its belt.  Check out the video of the first firing:

Burns surprisingly well (later, bigger fires) for not having a chimney.  Must be the door height to dome height ratio thingy that I mentioned last time.  I seem to have gotten that part right.

The thing I have to do next, though, is build a door to close it up tight.  I can put a lot of heat into the mass of the oven (about 500 lbs of cob alone), get it way up over 500 degrees in there, but it just hemorrhages heat once you remove the fire.  Everyone says a tight door is a must.  I agree.  A door is next.  I think it'll work great then.

Or you could build a version large enough to leave the fire in while you bake if that's your preference.  I could see that being a better party trick anyway.

So I've got $20 invested in the thing so far, for sand, that I used as a mold over which the cob shell was built.  I'll reuse that sand in the finish plaster, too, though I might have to buy a little additional pigment to add to the native clay to get the desired finish color.  Very affordable for its gravity.

Although...with a chance to look at it from the typical angle, and the little cooking tool and woodshed going up around it, I'm afraid the split down the middle in the target look of "wheat seed" looks a little more like "fat man's derriere."  Never mind what that would make the entry to the oven look like.

Nah, I think I'll plaster over that and make it smooth...we'll just pretend it's there to help the plaster hold onto the structure better!

Everyone who has seen it so far wants one, wants me to help them build one.  I think I could just about start a career building these things.  Pretty fun, too, but took plenty of physical effort.  Probably a full work week of effort all told, just to this point.  Core workout the whole way through, too.  Not like sitting at a desk.  Cobbing is actually very physical.  Surprisingly physical.  Every batch was a workout.  But left me feeling really good.  To be able to take heavy, natural, (and free) materials lying right around you and make something beautiful and useful out of them is uniquely rewarding.

If you're ever in the neighborhood let me know and we'll fire this baby up.

In the meantime, I've been churning it out lately.  I'm going to have one of the best photo updates in years ready for the winter solstice post!  Please stop back by.

Tripp out.