Monday, January 28, 2008


Before you comment on what you might think this looks like, let me tell you what it is: an Earth Oven - the project of our friend and neighbor here at Quartzsite, Richard Dopp.

We met Richard and Marlene last summer, when we tended their large and beautiful organic vegetable garden in Canby, Oregon, while Richard and Marlene were away. We all share an interest in food and wine, and Marlene treated us to several special meals that included homegrown vegetables and homemade bread.

As far back as last summer, Richard was visualizing the Earth Oven he was planning to build at Quartzsite, primarily using materials that would be available in the desert. Still, I was surprised to look out our window the other day and see him hard at work on the foundation of the oven.

Yesterday was a WET day here in the desert, raining most of the day. Like an ant, Richard continued his labors until his clay was too wet to work with productively.

Here is Richard, with the inner form (built of sand) that would support the clay until it dried. Richard had made the wooden door at home before they came down to Quartzsite - it is leaning in place against the oven's inner form, on firebricks that had come with them from Canby.

After I took the above photo, Richard covered the sand form with one tarp and his adobe clay pile with another. Who would have thought that his building project would have a rain delay??

Today dawned beautifully clear and Richard was back at work, applying clay to the sand form (covered with newspaper). He completed his clay work before long; now the oven is drying.

Richard had a bit of clay left after covering the sand form, so has put out the word that he is looking for a scuplter to dress up the beehive shape of the oven - but I am completely impressed even with this organic shape. After the clay dries, he will scoop out the sand - the resulting void will be the baking area of the oven.

The only sad news: Odel and I will be GONE before the oven is inaugerated! Can you imagine hot, homemade bread and pizza straight out of the oven??

If any of you readers are here in Boomerville, be sure you get over to see the oven. The Dopps are in the Country Coach on the far southern border of Boomerville, and the oven is just in front of their rig. Great project!


  1. I guess this is a stupid question, but where does the fire go? How do you actually cook stuff?


  2. Thanks for the nice posting. I've been having trouble uploading pictures to the blog page because of the speed of our connection. I think I'll just tell people to go to your blog to see the oven. We'll miss you when you move. I have the coordinates for Anza Borrego which I'll give you before you leave.