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Wow. Great welcome, guys. I figured clay wouldn't interest anyone. I figured wrong. Okay, yes, adobe style. San Antonio. And may I say, btw, that this is the most fun that anyone has had in San Antonio since....., well, since the Alamo. We've made huge progress, what with everyone who gets wind of it wanting to help. Today is Friday, we started two Fridays ago, and we started a drying fire two nights ago. (Yeah, I know, brick ovens cure for longer than our whole process took.) But, we're not done. We are trying to cure the inside (hard-pack clay) dome before putting on the insulation, which will be clay and gobs and gobs of sawdust.
The foundation is stacked recycled concrete slab, topped with a poured slab. The floor insulation is recycled beer bottles (we thought we would have enough from the first weekend's drinking, but we ran about twenty short, and had to raid the local bar), packed in clay with sawdust. The clay we dug up on the side of the road in Flooresville, about 30 miles south of here. We added straw to the hard-pack (chopped in a barell with a weed-eater). We added sawdust from a local cabinet maker's shop to the insulation layers. We used new firebrick for the oven floor, and insulation brick recycled from a local 1902 chimney for the arch. So as you can imagine, we're way over budget on this thing. Why, we must have spent over $160 already! (The budget was $150).
Unfortunately, we hardly got any pics of the building process. I don't have more than 300 on my phone, and there are fewer than 100 on my camera. So I'm going to pick the best 100 or so and post them here. (just kidding. Only 75)
I've done some pretty cool things in my life. This is the coolest thing I've been involved with.
Wow! Nice work. I was originally going to do an earthen oven, but didn't like the soot marks that always mar the oven openings. After building my brick WFO, I've got soot marks on my oven opening - go figure!
Great build though. That'll make great bread!
Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.
Yep.. very cool indeed! Looks like alot of fun too. Is the dome built around something? Looks like it in cat picture. The dome itself is clay and straw? And you just dug up the clay.
Very, very cool.
Thanks for all the great comments! Yes, straw mixed with clay dug out of the ground. (Flooresville has great clay. We could have thrown pots with this stuff.) And it's built around a sand form, which you then dig out through the door after the clay sets. Here's a pic of the form. After it's done, it's covered in wet newspaper to keep the sand from sticking to the inside of the dome. Any newpaper that sticks to the inside of the dome just burns off.
Mixing the adobe is surprisingly like kneading bread, with the straw acting as the gluten matrix. You put it on a tarp, add straw, stomp it for a while, then turn it by pulling up the corners of the tarp, and stomp some more. At first, like dough, it just doesn't hold together. But then there's this magic moment when it suddenly turns "smooth and satiny," as all the cookboks say, and it gets extensible and soft, and you know you're done.