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Building a clay pizza oven

I returned to the Wholesome Holmstead farm last Saturday to observe the clay oven workshop. The plan was to have an open invitation for people to come and help them build a small clay pizza oven. They had put the word out to their friends, family, and customers, and community…and what a jovial bunch showed up! All ready to get their hands dirty and spirits lifted.

They gathered around a mound of clay and sat on buckets and dug right in. The ‘bricks’ they were making started as palm-sized balls. “Are you making cannon balls?” I said with a laugh as I walked up to this scene of pyramids of round clay stacked high. I guess it was an arsenal of sorts, but not for hurling at enemies. Rather, it was for throwing at the mound of sand that was the form for the oven that is going to be the center of many a fine gathering of friends and neighbors.

About a week before they had a mason come in to pour a cement base. And today, before I arrived, they had laid fire bricks over the base and created a mound of sand on top of it. This was to be the form of the oven– a dome (one of the finest structures in the world, if you ask my husband–I tend to agree!) We arrived in time to watch them make a bunch of bricks and then start compacting them against the sand form. Once they had all the bricks arranged and troweled for shape, they were going to cut the hole of the oven’s opening and dig out all of the sand, leaving behind a hollow form, ready to dry out and become their oven.

I plan on going back this week and seeing the finished product. I’ll definitely report back on that and also let you know when the first firing and pizza party is! They’re going to make pizza with their fresh veggies and meat– I can’t wait to try some!