Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hot Times, Part I

It's been as hot as an oven here, so Sally's nephew, Nathan Silva, and I have been inspired to build a forno, Italian for pizza oven. They are also good for baking bread, roasting meats, cooking casseroles, and a host of other things including curdling yogurt and drying fruit, because they hold heat a long time and cool gradually after firing.

We started the process by clearing the area inside the old farmshack walls of leftovers from the housebuilding process, saving everything that could be reused in the oven, including this old poroton (extruded terracotta block), which we stacked into the walls of the base and reinforced with rebar.

On that we poured a 2-inch thick cement slab, creating the base for the oven floor and the ceiling of the wood storage area.

From a neighbor we obtained some good Tuscan clay, the kind all that terra cotta (cooked earth) tile, brick, and pottery is made from. It starts out gray but ends up red. After Nathan kneaded it with water to the right consistency by foot.

We added wine bottles and Thermolite (heat puffed clay nodules) to create the insulation base on which the oven floor will go.

When that dried, we used a layer of clay and sand to set the fire brick that is the actual pizza cooking surface.