Monday, March 3, 2008


My day almost always begins with a cup of tea and a peek at the internet for email and a weather report. Today I found two comments on yesterday's blog posting, both with questions, and decided to answer them while I wait for the sun to warm things up a bit (like get above freezing!).

From Donna:
I have never been quite sure where exactly the fire is. Is it inside the oven and then you bake after it's burned itself out? Or is it underneath the oven and you have to keep it going while you bake?

It is difficult to picture a clay oven, especially in the building stages, if you haven't seen one before, isn't it? Yes, the fire burns inside the oven (in the void created when we remove the sand) for 3-4 hours. When the oven is sufficiently heated, the fire is allowed to burn out, the ashes are removed, the door is placed in the opening, and the oven "soaks" - not in water, but in heat - for 30 minutes so hot spots cool and cool spots warm. By the time the food goes into the oven, the floor and the clay shell will be evenly heated.

From Strawboss:
The manure will also make the clay very adhesive and workable. Mix it the day before and let it sit just like you did before, you'll love it. Are you going to put some sort of "roof" over your oven? I didn't and was sorry but was moving anyway

We aren't going to build a roof. When we began experimenting with our mud, we made a very small mud dome, quite compacted, about 3 inches thick. When it was completely dry, it was the texture of a rock - solid and HARD. We put it on the ground and ran a hose over it for a couple minutes, attempting to mimic a monsoon rain. The clay dome absorbed absolutely ZERO moisture. Not a scientific test, I know - but we were impressed.

Have you seen old abode ruins in the southwest, on state or federal lands, that are being protected from further erosion? A "sacrifice" layer of mud, clay, or abode is applied to the top of the adobe ruin annually, with the intention that the newly applied mud will be sacrificed to erosion, protecting the ancient adobe.

That is our intention with the "insulation" layer - it will not only insulate the oven to help retain heat, but can also be sacrificed to the monsoons, easily replaced as needed. That's our plan; we'll see how it works in "real life".

Strawboss, I have searched your blog for a way to contact you directly. If you would like to get in touch, my email address is linked to our profile. Click on "View My Complete Profile" in the left hand column, then on "Email". Thanks for your input so far!

At 8:30 am, it is sunny, COLD and the winds are still very gusty. We feel we can begin on the oven as late in the day as noon and have time to complete it before nightfall. I wonder what the weather has in store for us today?


  1. Man, what a project!! I can see why nobody at Jojoba took me up on my request to build one here in the park. I am really proud of how methodical you are. I guess that I will have to just carefully plot and follow where you and the Dopps travel and build.:-)


  2. My goodness, I'm all worn out just seeing what you have done so far! You've done a great job and I can't wait to see what the finished project will look like.

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron

  3. Thank you!! I think I'm beginning to get the picture. One of these days when we get out there to visit, we'll be able to enjoy the fruits of all your hard work!!