Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pizza Oven taking form

Well, I haven't been printmaking much because my simple "2 weekend" project has stretched on and on.

Mostly my part for making it bigger than we probably need for a home "test" oven. It finished out at 27-28" in interior diameter which seems small but requires a lot of material. Last weekend we gathered sand from the beach and from a friend's creekbed (13 five-gallon buckets total) and I dug another 4 of mud/soil/dirt from the yard.
We built a little test dome of wet sand to see if it held, I made a few test bricks of my mud and when all looked good we charged ahead.

First day of round III: I got up early and layered a 1/2" layer of sand over the dense mud base. Then I carefully placed my firebrick hearth on the sand getting them tight together and all flat (I needed two tries).

Then I mixed a bit of mud to "mortar in place the brick floor of the opening. Then, once I got a few neighborhood kids together we built the sand hemisphere which serves as the form for the clay shell. It took a lot of sand and a lot longer than I imagined. 6 Buckets of sand later we had a nice smooth sand dome.

Day 2 of round III: Get a tarp. Put out 4 buckets of sand in a circle, 2 buckets of soil/clay in the middle, add a bit of water from the hose and mix. We mixed with our shoed/booted feet (some sharp stones in the sand). It took about an hour to mix up half of the mix for the shell. Jumping and grinding the sand into the clayey/dirt. We started building the clay shell packing it carefully around the dome of wet sand (which we had covered with wet newspaper to keep it separate from the mud.

We should have finished the dome the same day. But we were too slow and my helpers all abandoned me to play outside.

Day 3 of round III: We finished the clay shell once the kids got out of school. We built up and in and over the top of the dome trying to get 4 inches thick layer over the sand. We finished just before dark and I evened it all out with a wooden board.
Now it looked a bit like Jabba the Hut in Star Wars.

Day 4 of round III:
Now the hard part. I need to carefully scoop out the wet sand from the doorway and not have the clay oven collapse. I waited a bit too long and a big crack opened up as the walls of the dome slumped a bit over the rigid sand form. It closed once I dug out the sand and shouldn't be a problem. But it didn't collapse! Now, with the sand out it will dry faster.

While not finished (I need to add an insulating layer around the clay and smooth it all out so it looks nice) but it will be useable once it dries for pizza at least. Tomorrow we'll light a little fire in it to help dry out the clay.

No pizza tonight. From building the sand dome to finishing the clay shell should all have been done on the same day but it took us 4 days. It would go faster if I have to do it again but the real key is to get help and do it as a group project.

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