About

Hi my name is Simon Brookes.  I decided to set-up this blog in order to share my experience of building a wood-fired clay, garden oven.  If you search for information about building these beautiful objects you will find it, indeed there are some excellent on-line resources and books published on the subject.  However, during the process of constructing my oven I was looking for a resource which not only provided details on the building methods, materials etc. but also gave me the opportunity to share hints and tips and ask questions of others”out there” with prior experience.  I couldn’t find one so this is an attempt to provide such a resource.

I also hoped to make this a hub resource for other websites and so will provide links to useful and relevant links, news and courses.  Please let me know of any you find.

The blog, and my involvement with garden ovens, have taken on a life of their own. The site has received well over 800,000 visits, I have published a book and I now run oven building courses several times a year (see below).

I must acknowledge the inspiration for my wanting to start such a project in the first place.  In July 2008 my wife brought me, as a surprise birthday present, a one day course at River Cottage Headquaters.  The day long course called “Build and Bake” was absolutely fantastic – easily one of the most enjoyable days I have spent.

The process I have used to build my own clay oven (as outlined on this blog) is pretty much the method of construction used by the River Cottage team and even though you can follow my instructions I thoroughly recommend you enrol yourself on their course before you begin your own clay oven, if you are in a position to do so. I also run my own courses now at the Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hampshire:

http://www.sustainability-centre.org/

Please feel free to ask questions, send photos and join the discussion.

Happy Building!

P.S. You can now follow me on Twitter if you like: http://twitter.com/ClayPizzaOven and join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/theclayovenblog

 

57 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi there,
    very impressed with your enthusiasm! I run a forest school at my prep school in west sussex and would love to build a pizza oven at my site. May I ask firstly if you would come and supervise the project, and secondly your daily rate for your expertise should this be possible i
    thank you for your time and help,

    clare Smith
    C.smith@greatballard.co.uk

  2. sorry this took sooooo long but I used a one part powder clay to one part fine sand plus one part GROG (its a crumbled up fire brick) The only place I have cracks is where the walls meet the brick opening ( the mouthe or entrance) I plan on adding 5 inches to that opening and making a mosaic cover on the whole oven .. I find it to be a bit weather sensative. I hope covering it with morter grout and pebbles will help with that. Makes super tastey pizza!!! Thanks

    • Hi Suzie
      A few concerns here, *The mix ratio is usually at least 2 sand 1clay* The sand i use is sharp sand ( not fine ) * the Grog must really be ground down as any air pockets may eventually cause fault lines from within, causing cracks * when extending you should use some sort of metal tie to link old and new ( strips of heavy mesh, not chicken wire ) * NEVER use portland cement as mortar cracks and will cut through between mosaic if not carefull, .. oh ..and use some S.B.R BOND in the mix before laying mosaic and grout with exterior, waterproof, flexible grout.
      I hope this was helpfull , im not a regular blogger but i do build many brick & clay ovens . traditionalclayovens.com

  3. Great site, we got your book and set about trying to build one, We used powdered clay mixed with sand, it all built nice and we left for a week then lit a little fire. Don’t know what we did wrong I expected cracks etc but it kept exploding lumps from the inside wall. So we left to dry for another week then lit a fire and the whole thing just blew itself up. I am not kidding. There was a hole blow in the top the size of football. What the heck have I done wrong?? Help

    • Hi Rick. Ouch! That’s the first time I have heard of such a thing happening. I have noticed a trend of people having problems when they use powdered clay. I assume it is to do with the clay:sand ratio but I’m afraid I can’t really say for sure never having used powdered clay myself. It seems that some people are using it successfully (see the most recent guest post) so you might be able to ask on the site for more help. I can say one thing for sure, the problems all seem associated with a mixture which is too clay rich – you may need to experiment. The other thing I would recommend is to not over heat the oven-layer when you are drying it off. Rapid loss of water from the clay will cause cracking and probably also resulted in your explosive experience. Heat gently or allow to dry naturally (by the way don’t worry if the clay layer isn’t completely dry before you start the insulation layer – it makes no odds.

      Good luck and please post again.

      Simon

  4. Well here I go .Downloaded the pdf book read it built the plinth out of 4 inch solids some sand and a 31 inch firebrick base.Now I hvae 3 50 bags of firebrick powder some silica sand and some grog and will mix up the clay batches tommorrow and all going well will be sending a photo of my done oven .thank you to everyone who posted thoughts here. Helped me when I started saying what ammmmm I doing.

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