Cob, glorious cob.
Rowan and I spent the last two days building a cob pizza oven out at the far end of Madison County. What is cob, you ask? It is a traditional building material comprised of clay, sand, and straw--the same materials in adobe bricks. The difference is how you build with it. Cob construction is the closest form of architecture to pottery. The materials are moistened and mixed with bare feet on a tarp and then formed into cobs, little loaf shapes. These are then carried to the wall and attached like short sections of coils. For our oven project, we laid a hearth made from large two-inch thick tiles of firebrick cut to the shape often oven form. The form is a giant puzzle mold that allows you to pull all the form sections out the oven mouth once the dome is complete. We cobbed up over the form until the dome was complete. The wall was four to five inches thick so that it will store heat from the fire in the oven long enough to bake several batches of pizza and bread. Now we have to wait a day or two for the walls to stiffen before we can remove the form. Fingers crossed!