Saturday before last the permaculture class came out to the Funny Farm to work on the cob oven. There were 14 of us all working together to make it happen. I gave a brief orientation about how a cob oven works, what the various layers are made of and where we stood in the process. We then divvied up the various task and got to work.
One group worked on the sand dome that would support the cob that forms the inside of the oven and is the layer that will absorb and retain the heat for cooking. 2 other groups started mixing and stomping the sand/clay mixture to make the cob. It was very exciting to experience how quickly we gelled into an efficient team to get the job done. Within and hour and a half we had completed the sand dome and applied the first layer of cob. Thanks to Brandy and Keri for bringing their group out the help.
Sunday i cut out the door opening and then took a break from cobbing to let my weary body recover. Cobbing is hard work :) And fun work too!
On Monday my friend Deanna came out to help me apply the next layer, the insulation layer. We built a large lip of structural cob around the door opening to support and contain the insulation. We mixed together clay slip (screened clay and water) and wheat straw and layer it over the whole surface of the oven in a 3-4" thick layer. This layer is not packed down so there will be air pockets that prevent the heat from being conducted out of the inner cob layer to the outside surface. After Deanna left i began to sculpt some of the features that will give the oven a Funny Farm flair. I added an eyebrow, an eye and the upper lip.
On Friday i covered the insulation layer with a layer of structural cob, clay/sand/straw. The straw acts like rebar giving the cob shear strength.
Yesterday i did some more sculpting using up the remaining cob i made on Friday. I added a lower lip and one cheek. I have determined that the oven is a female. Someone on Facebook asked me what her name is. She has not revealed that to us yet. All in its own time.
If the weather is good tomorrow i will finish up sculpting the rest of her features. After that we will let her dry until after the end of the year before we put the final plaster coat on her. This Sunday we will probably build a small fire in her to see how well she breathes and because i can't stand to wait any longer.
We are so excited about having fresh bread and other yumminess cooked in our own mud oven in the foreseeable future!