Clay Oven 2.0

In a recent post I demonstrated what happens when a traditional clay oven is neglected and abandoned to the vagaries of a British winter. After waiting for weeks for the weather to pick-up a little, I finally managed to get out into the garden this week and got on with the long-awaited repairs. I thought you’d like to see what I have been doing.

First off, here’s a sad reminder of what the oven looked like beforehand.

Collapsed Pizza Oven

You can see that the brick arch and chimney had collapsed. You will also notice the house brick which I had placed in the hole which had burnt into the front beam of the plinth. This was always meant to be temporary but I had never got around to fixing it.

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The first thing I did was remove  the arch bricks, the chimney remnants and then strip-off the outer-layer of the oven. What you can see below is the inner layer, around which is wrapped  the insulation layer.

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I then removed the brick from the charred hole in the plinth beam and fitted a new, fire-proof tile in its place (I used a stone floor tile).

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For ages I have wanted to make a wooden former around which to build a new brick arch. As you can see below, I made this out of a few pieces of wood offcuts which I marked-up and then cut with a jigsaw. The arch pattern will allow me to build a much neater arch but also make it much easier for me to make a nice, tight fitting oven door.

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Next I fitted the arch pattern/former in place at the front of the oven. This required me to slightly re-shape the front of the oven layer which I did easily with a knife.

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At this stage I realised that it might be tricky to remove the arch pattern once the bricks had been built around it, so I added a couple of brackets to the front which could be used as handles. I then built the brick arch using clay:sand mixture as mortar, making sure that the key stone, in the top-centre of the arch was positioned to take the weight of the arch either side of it. This is important, if you don’t do this the arch will collapse under it’s own weight.

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You can see below how I then began to backfill the gap between the new arch and the oven using clay:sand mixture.

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Another modification I have been wanting to make for ages is to add a ready-made chimney. I managed to get hold of a clay pipe fitting, the front of which I rested on the top brick of the arch and the back which I rested on the solid, oven-layer. I cut a couple of house bricks and fitted them snugly, either side of the chimney, in order to give it extra support and then packed the gaps out with clay:sand mixture. I think it looks rather splendid!

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Here’s a close-up of the chimney.

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Finally, I rebuilt the outer layer with good old clay:sand mixture and, voila!

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Clay oven version 2.0 – done! What do you think?

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Another course, another sunny day in May

“Anyone’s life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit.” Lillie Langtry

If I weren’t such a rationale sort of bloke, I might begin thinking that something, or someone is effecting the weather on the days when I run these oven building courses. For it seems, regardless of the prevailing (and forecasted) horrendous weather conditions, that the sun always shines on our happy bunch of oven builders, and this weekend was no exception.

Last Saturday, sixteen people gathered from various places around the UK to learn how to build a traditional clay oven. And work we did. And pizza for lunch we had. And soap was used. And plenty of fresh air was received. And the sun did shine all day. And happy and contented spirits were we all. And life was surely lived. OK, I’m being rather poetic, but I think it’s fair to say that we had a great day.

Happy and contented party of oven builders

Happy and contented party of oven builders

Here’s a little time-lapse movie of the day (don’t mention the arch!).

So, here’s a couple of things to consider: 1. If you fancy coming along to one of my courses, the next one to be held at the Sustainability Centre will be on Saturday 14th September; 2. If you are thinking of getting married, and live anywhere near to the site in Hampshire  UK, this is the day to do it if you want a guarantee that the sun will shine for your photographs (don’t quote me on this!!).

Finally, thanks to everyone who came and, as usual, I look forward to seeing your completed ovens.

Best of luck

Simon

PS if you wan’t a copy of any of the photos, email me.

The South Downs Green Fair 2013

Green Fair 2012

Green Fair 2012

Each year the Sustainability Centre in Petersfield, UK, runs a Green Fair to raise money (and awareness) for their charity. It’s a really nice day, particularly when the sun shines (fingers crossed) and a beautiful location. You can listen to music, listen to interesting talks, make things, eat delicious food and drink local craft beers (gotta be good!).

I’ll be there for the first time this year building an oven. Why not pop along and have a look.

This year it is on Sunday 12th May, 11.00 – 17.00.

Entrance is £6.00 adults and £3.00 for kids. You can find more details on the website, here:

http://www.sustainability-centre.org/event_detail.php?id=1

Say hello if you see me (and let me know if you read the blog).

Simon