Spurred on by community members donating books and ideas on the subject and our desire to increase our cooking ability, the students began to design and build a traditional clay oven in October. With classroom pizza projects in full swing the desire to have a pizza oven for community and classroom use came to the forefront. The students were intrigued by the idea of cooking pizzas in record time and cooking breads and other items as the oven cools.
The following is a sequence of events with pictures which lead to the completion of the oven:
1. The project began in late October with the area being prepared by digging down past the organic layer and filling it with gravel.
2. A 4 foot by 4 foot piece of bluebird was placed on top of the leveled gravel.
3. A perimeter of cinder blocks was dry laid four high and filled with gravel. This base was filled with rocks, old cement , gravel, and sand.
4. The entire top was packed and leveled with granite dust.
5. Four two by two foot pavers were placed on top of the granite dust.
6. Cody and Chapin then built a brick archway which will be the opening for the oven.
7. Fire brick was dry set on the stone dust very tightly so no gaps appeared.
8. A form for the oven was packed out of wet sand and covered with wet newspaper.
9. Using clay donated by Ms. Hartkopf the students mixed up a concoction of 20% sand and 80% clay in wheelbarrows.
10. This mix was used to form wet bricks four inches thick to be placed over the top of the form.
11. After this had partially dried another layer of clay mixed with sawdust was mixed in 5 gallon buckets. This would form the insulation layer.
12. Four inch bricks of the insulation material was laid over the first layer
13. The last layer was the same as the first but only two inches thick. This clay was also used to shape the chimney hole which we had been keeping open with PVC pipe and could now remove.
14. The sand was partially removed and a heater was used to began to dry the oven.
15. When it was safe we removed the sand and kindled a fire to dry and harden the oven. During this time a few pizzas were cooked as a test. They turned out great!
16. The final layer was an outdoor durabond substance similar to stucco.
17. Darcy and Walter Lamont fashioned a great oak door for the oven and we were ready to fire up
18. The first real firing was a success and pizzas were cooked anywhere from 3 minutes to 6 minutes. Some had pretty black bottoms! Experimentation is needed to obtain the proper heat. for cooking various items. The thermometer donated by Henry Buochard indicated a 600 degree oven immediately after firing.