#1  
Old 03-06-2010, 03:33 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Phoenixville, PA
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Default Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

So, here is the deal:

I have in my possession a large ceramic oven/woodstove that I am pretty sure could be the starting point for a really great wood fired pizza oven. The problem is that I am not sure yet which way to approach it...

After reading the forums here my first thought was to use the oven itself as the inner "dome" of the oven and surround it with the necessary insulation (refactory cement, perlcrete etc) to make a pretty sweet oven. It wouldn't be perfect obviously, or have the ideal proportions, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Recentley though I have been somewhat inspired by the Pizza Hacker guy with his Frankenwebber. It seems that he is making pies on par with the fanciest WFO's, using less money but more ingenuity. Plus, I have been thinking that I should tinker around with the oven "as is" a little bit before making any serious, permanent changes to it. Maybe insulate the floor with firebricks and stack some firebricks against the inside wall to make a temporary (albeit smaller) cooking area.

Before I get to ahead of myself let me explain a bit more about the stove itself. It's about an inch thick and made entirely of ceramic material. Its first life was as a woodstove in a remote cabin in Maine. The stove was made by a ceramics professor, although I don't anything about how it was actually assembled or what is the exact makeup of the clay. And thats about all I know! So anyway, here is a picture. Let me know what you think...
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  #2  
Old 03-15-2010, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

that is way to nice to mess up....start from scratch and build a WFO that you can use to make the pizza that you can eat while sitting around that COOL wood stove with a glass of wine!
Rog
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:37 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

Or, if it's a signed piece, you could perhaps auction it for enough to buy a proper modular oven. There's a real market for mid-century modern art ceramics. Research the provenance and call Sotheby's.
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

I'm with both dmun and Rog regarding don't mess with modifying it. I would suggest you check out Antiques Roadshow online and go thru the appraisers list to see who specializes in mid 20th century ceramics. Take some photos and send them to the appraiser who you select with a brief note explaining what you have. I recently picked up two Art Nouveau bronze plaques at of all places the Goodwill. I contacted one of their appraisers and he got back to me surprisingly fast. Seems I was right in what I saw and got two beautiful pieces for a small fraction of what they would fetch in the open market. Just because some will probably ask, here are two photos of the matching plaques:

Hope this helps,
Wiley
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Old 03-16-2010, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

Hard to see how that could possibly be converted into a pizza oven. Pizza ovens have only one opening (the chimney or vent is actually outside of the oven door).
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

I built my first oven with a central flue rather like yours. It is very similar to the pottery kilns used by the ancient Romans. The central flue has the advantage of drawing really well because the flame does what it likes to do best, travel straight up. It will not use the flame as efficiently as a front flued oven and you'll have some flame coming out the top. You will also need to be able to both choke and block off the flue opening at the top somehow. Potters usually use a piece of broken ceramic shelf. You would also need to insulate the outside of the oven. I passed on my little oven to a friend. It worked really well and having no flue at the front gave it the advantage of less reach to the inner oven. Vermiculite and cement insulation is not too expensive. You could have a working oven very cheaply.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

Thanks for the responses everyone!

David S.- I think you get the type of thing that I was envisioning. Not a full blown WFO, just something that could put together quickly and easily from what I have on hand. I thought the same thing- that I would need to add some insulation, obviously, and find a way to cover the top flue while cooking to direct the heat back over the pizza.

I know that it is not a true collectors item, it was just a wood stove (albeit a cool one) that a guy made for his cabin. Even so, I think I like it too much to mess it up, so I may go with the general consesus here and leave the stove as is while planning for a true WFO in the future. Thanks for the ideas!

PS- If I do end up doing anything with the stove I'll certainly follow up by posting here...
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: Unusual Ceramic Oven Possibilites

While I'm kinda in the 'don't mess up the cool stove thingie' camp, it seems to me you can make a trial run w/o major modifications (or getting too dangerously close to heavy firebrick that can fall down and do really bad things). I would think you could wrap it in an insulating blanket, shove in a pizza stone and partially dampen the flue with a bit of the blanket. It wouldn't be great but it would give you a better idea of just how it might work.

Or you can go with Windage's suggestion (although I'd substitute sparkling cider being a teetotaler! )
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