Clay Oven Update

Weather, and work on my other project has meant getting the clay oven done has taken longer than planned, but it’s slowly getting there!!

After finishing the base, we chose a cracking Sunday a fortnight ago to get the first clay mix done. Mixing the clay with feet was a very fun, but tiring task! Still, 3 or 4 bags of sand, and two buckets of clay gave us the mix we needed to pile onto the dome. The newspaper will ensure that the clay doesn’t stick to the sand inside, and it will be easily removed when hollowing out.

The dome ready for the first coat of clay!

The dome ready for the first coat of clay!

We made the dome 15″ high, so from that, I know that the door needs to be 10″ high. (approx 63% height is the ideal ratio). The inside walls of the oven were built to be 4″ thick.

When laying the clay, it was obvious we mixed it with a little too much water, as the form began to slump on itself. Giving it some time between layers helped, but I would urge caution to those doing this, make sure your clay mix is not too wet – it’s easy to add water, not so easy to take it away!! As you can see in the later photos, the bottom layer looks a little bumpy as a result. This is something that shouldn’t cause any performance issues, and it will be covered up by the insulation layer, but still!!

Beginning the hollowing out. The brown thing is a log we used to save on sand for the dome.

Beginning the hollowing out. The brown thing is a log we used to save on sand for the dome.

Given the awful weather, I gave it a week before cutting the door opening. Slowly, I dug out the sand and stones we built the dome with.

The rain was due on the Monday after our initial building work, so I got some old timber and built a quick shelter to help protect it from the worst. Once I’ve got the two layers done, the final layer will be lime render, so it should be a bit better protected, though I think the shelter is going to be a permanent feature.

A little shelter to save it from the rain!

A little shelter to save it from the rain!

Here it is with the inside hollowed out! Exciting isn’t it! Now it’s time to start a small fire, and begin to dry it out completely before contemplating the insulation layer around the dome!