We bought some bricks and a piece of 3/4-inch plywood for the base. We repurposed a retired baking stone as the hearth surface. The brick base was 20" by 20". The stone is about 15 inches square.
We built a form from topsoil and sand, and covered that in wet newspaper to separate the form from the clay outside.
Clay is what we have plenty of at Bide-A-Wee. You dig out a shovelful of soil, and the cut edge shines. Getting in there with your feet is an effective way to mix the soil, some sand, and water. Good fun, too.
"Feet of clay."
We packed the clay mixture up around the form. I think our mix was a little wet, but it worked out okay in the end.
It felt a bit like a project for the junior high science fair.
In Denzer's book there are fanciful sculptural embellishments on many of the ovens. We were enamored by the simple organic shape, color, and texture of our first attempt at earth-ovenry. We let the decoration go with just a few light brushings with our fingertips.
That process took a morning. That evening we cut an opening for the door. The clay mixture was now exactly the consistency of fudge.
We made a door out of a cross-cut section of log, trimmed not at all symetrically, but that felt appropriate. The next day the clay seemed to be setting up nicely, just a few small cracks around the base. We emptied out the form material. It didn't fall down.
We had to get back to town and didn't have time to fire it. Next post, earth oven pizza...we hope....
Text and photos copyright 2009 by Brett Laidlaw and Mary Eckmeier