June 18, 2012

Building a wood burning adobe oven

I attended an adobe oven building workshop over the last two weekends at Under Belly Farm, owned by Peter McAllister just outside of Kaslo, BC. It was fun, informative and I feel very confident that I can build one in my own back yard. I wanted to share the photos I took and a very quick rundown of what we did. For indepth instructions, there are many books available to help you get the proportions correct for the adobe. Our instructor was Spring Shine, an amazing artist from Argenta, BC. Click on the photos to see them bigger.
First, Peter built a platform out of logs and lumber to hold the oven at a comfortable height for working:

The mixture of sand, mud, straw and water is worked with bare feet on a tarp:

The first layer of adobe is the base on the foundation:

Then add layer of broken tempered glass (from old automobiles) is spread out for insulation:

Next, a deep layer of sand that will hold the fire bricks on the bottom of the oven:

And the nicely placed fire bricks:

A willow cage is constructed to hold the adobe while it sets:

At this point it looks like a giant beaver dam:

Brick arch is formed for the doorway to the oven:

After two more layers of adobe for insulation, the final layer is made with sifted sand, and screened mud:

 The straw was chopped up fine so that the finish is smooth on the oven:

We decided to incorporate some art to the structure, so a beautiful dragon was sculpted with the adobe and some rocks:

The site had lovely green stones, so I searched until I found his eyes:

The work of art has to dry for at least three days before the first firing:

I can't wait to return and try out some pizza and bread in the oven! This project was built entirely out of local materials, with a little hard work and some great new friends. The result is an oven that will last for many decades or longer if protected from the rain. Imagine how much great food this can create!
For more info on Spring, check out his websites here:
For more workshops in the future, check out Under Belly Farm here: