With the insulating layer completed, I proceeded to fire the oven every evening. As the inner layer gets harder, I can build bigger fires and raise the inside temperatures. The insulating layer fired well and the temperature caused the straw in the clay to almost char and we could smell it quiet distinctly. Also you could see the burnt straw on the surface of the clay so it must have got very hot. Some minor cracks developed (probably because I dried it so quickly), but these I patched and then proceeded to the final (finishing) layer.
This is a clay/sand mix the same as the inner layer but is only about 30-40mm thick and is really just to finish off the oven nicely. You build it identically to the other layers and work your way around and around placing the mix, pushing down, pushing in and repeating. Here is what it looked like. Note the insulating layer showing from underneath.
As you can see the oven now reaches almost to the end of the frame. The walls are now over 150mm thick and this should allow me to achieve some impressive inside temperatures.
I fired it once again and this time a lot of cracks developed because this final layer is thinner and also I worked in gale force winds which dried it out far too quickly. I decided to plaster the floor of the oven with the clay/sand mix as the brick paving floor wasn’t smooth enough to get pizzas in and out.
The rustic door was completed and the door frame plastered so that the door sits snugly in the frame. The last thing to do was to put my signature (hand print) above the door and voila, the oven was finished. The hand print is a pagan touch and apparently man’s first signature. Hand prints were put over traditional oven doors to protect against the “evil eye” and bless the food that was to be prepared. Well here is the completed oven.
My next post will describe the delicious pizzas that will be made in the oven on Sunday evening and then from next week, it’ll be back to Aquaponics.