Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hot Times, Part III

The insulation coat. It will hold in the heat. It's 4 inches thick. Clay, sawdust, planer shavings, wild oat straw, and the rest of the Thermite left over from the construction of the base. It's looking more and more like a mud igloo. Just the way it should.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Handmade Things

Fatto a mano. Italian for handmade.

Speaking of handcrafted things, we harvested the malvasia grapes, the first to ripen in our vineyard, and began to make our first hand-crafted white wine.

Wine, as I do it, is a handmade thing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hot Times, Part II

One thing is certain, a forno is a handmade object.

On Saturday, Sally and I drove Nathan to Rome to catch his flight home just in time to make his connection in Philadelphia, just before Hurricane Irene hit. Unfortunately, that meant he and I didn't have time to pack the clay over the sand dome, or to get the oven to the point where he could bake the pizza he'd hope to make. That will have to wait until his next visit.

Since the oven wasn't going to build itself, I went to work. By foot, in big rubber boots, I mixed clay with sharp builders sand, then I packed it by hand over the wet sand dome Nathan and I had sculpted, to create the 4-inch-thick cupola that forms the oven body. This is the oven's thermal mass. Along with the fire brick floor, it will collects and hold the heat from the fire and radiate it back into the cooking food.

After it had dried for two days, I scooped all the sand out from under the hardening dome. To speed things up a bit, I lit a drying fire. If I'd wanted, I could have cooked pizza, but since the oven will work better with another coat of insulating clay, and will look better and last longer with a final coat of finishing plaster, I'll get things a little more finished before I throw that dinner party.