I built the base and made my first attempt in 2016. I wrote about it here. While the base is a little wonky, it is strong and survived even though the first oven did not. I built it too late in the season and there were freezing temperatures at night. So the water never evaporated, it froze and then when I warmed it up, probably too quickly, it melted and the whole thing collapsed. The project was like childbirth. It took me a couple of years before I was ready to try it again. But I waited for the hottest day of the year and tackled it again, with a few modifications. But the sun pointed to my mound of sand and told me it was time to start.
Tim built a beautiful roof. Now it is protected from rain and snow and provides shelter for the chef and a place to bang your head for the pizza oven builder. Rather than dig the sand and clay again, I bought it. And I added cement, I don’t think I could bear to see the whole thing crumble again.
I began with relaying the fire bricks that make up the floor in a bed of sand. Then I built a mound of sand on top, 22″ diameter, 16″ high in the back and 10″ in the front. Next I covered the sand with wet newspaper. Very much like paper mache’ projects. In theory, once the oven dries around the mound, I will be able to scoop out the sand and paper and be left with a pizza oven.
The recipe was 1.5 parts Portland cement; 2 parts Hawthorne Clay from Sheffield pottery; 2 parts silica; and 2 parts wood shavings that had been soaked in water. It was from delftclay.co.nz
I made it in small batches so I could adjust if it was too wet or dry. I mixed the dry ingredients, sprinkled some water and then kneaded with my hands. I probably made at least 30 batches!! I’m a little broken today. But I digress.
This is probably a project best done with a crowd that likes to make mud pies. If I have to do it again, I will buy an oven. But, for now I will have to wait and see. Anticipation!