Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Can you see the bubble in the level in this picture. Right on the money! Needless to say, we were pretty happy when we put the level on our top layer (protected from the mud by a board) and found we had built a level foundation.

With any building project, progress slows as the level of detail increases. Day One and Day Two were about mass, using lots of concrete block and gravel. We even buried an old tire in the bottom of the foundation - excellent stability and mass for the foundation, and one less thing to haul to the dump for Rosanna.

Today, however, progress was less obvious. We needed to cover our wine bottles with a strong insulating layer to keep the oven's heat from dissipating into the foundation. Less bulk, more density - so a lot less space was filled.

We started the day with another trip to our secret sand quarry, while we were feeling strong. On the way home, we stopped at Marvin's to pick up lovely, clean, light sawdust that he had conveniently packed in bags.

Next we made "slip", clay soil mixed with a lot of water to the texture of heavy cream. To me, this is true MUD, the kind that splashes up on your glasses if you mix too enthusiastically, the kind that hardens on everything as it dries. The slip and the sawdust were combined, by hand, into a wet dough for our insulating layer.

The sawdust dough went onto and between the wine bottles. We were somewhat shocked when our first batch, about half a wheelbarrow full, didn't quite cover the wine bottles. We mixed up and added another layer... still FAR short of the top of the cinderblocks.

We mixed up one last layer (it requires 45 minutes to get the "slip" to the right texture, then a lot of mixing to incorporate the sawdust) and were relieved to see that we were just an inch or so shy of the top of our cinderblocks. That leaves just the right space for the final layer, the sand that will make a base for the firebricks that are the floor of the oven.

Three days of hard work is enough for now. We are taking tomorrow off, which will give the mud and sawdust layer time to dry before we proceed, and will give Odel time to play golf. Rosanna and I can (try to) laze around. Ummmmm... sounds delightful.


  1. Looking good! I also filled my foundation with all kinds of junk, cans, bottles, broken blocks.


  2. Looks good!! How's your back holding up. The project looks awesome. Now that I see the size, I'm thinking maybe a little longer fire time the first time. The base really soaks up the heat until it gets totally dry.