Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Build an Earthen Oven

Ok, so I'm going to start describing how I built my first Earthen Oven. Well, technically my second, the first one I built here in my backyard and learned a great big lesson:

Don't try and rush your earth oven in the middle of August in Charleston, SC when the materials are wet as well as the air. Your oven will collapse. :-)  

But lets move on...ah hum...

I learned how to build an earth oven from Kiko Denzer's 'how-to' book, as well as other people's blogs and websites, so I figured I might as well share my experience so others can learn from my experience...the good and the bad.  Natural Building is a great style of building to experiment with on your own b/c there's really no high tech, expensive tools involved, the materials are hopefully free or cheap, and once you understand the materials and how to work with them, you can get very creative.  

The oven I'll be mostly discussing will be the oven which was built at two separate workshops: 
Workshop 1 - 2 days; Oven is built (thermal layer and insulation layer)
Workshop 2 - 1 day; Plaster layer and pizza cooking

After Workshop 1

After Workshop 2

The foundation was built during the week before the first workshop by me and my friend Elder Carlie Towne.  She is an elder in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  This is her property and her vision is to eventually have a Gullah/Geechee Camp Meeting Center; a place to discuss and understand this culture of African descendants, people who are dedicated to understanding their roots and preserving their heritage.  The emergence of the earth oven is to allow us to start using the property, engage with the locals in Cross, SC, and bring this practice of Natural Building into rural South Carolina all the way down to the Charleston Low-Country.  

The design of the cultural center was taken on as pro-bono work by myself and four other fellow Architects here in Charleston and supported by Architecture for Humanity.

I hope that my rendition of 'How to Build Your Own Earthen Oven' is informative to those wishing to try it out! Please feel free to comment or ask questions!

I'll get started with the building of the Foundation in my next post.


HcoRealEstates said...
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murdith said...

Hi there! I am planning on building an oven here in North Florida and would love to see the rest of your discussion about building an earth oven. Do you know of any other online discussions of building an earth oven in our climate? Or do you plan to finish this blog post? I would love to hear back! Thank you! Love your blog!

April said...

Hi there!

Haha, unfortunately, no....I never finished that blog. One of the many things I will one day get back to.

Also, I've stopped using this blog and have switched my blog site over to my website;

However, I am actually coming to Jacksonville the weekend of Nov. 3-4 to teach a workshop on a full outdoor kitchen!
We'll be building a pizza oven as well as another kind of wood fired stove, and cob counters, shelves, etc.

It's going to be at a guy named Tim Armstrong's 40 acre farm.
Let me know if you are interested and I'll get you more details.

Otherwise, order Kiko Denzer's book: How to build an earth oven''s the best resource out there.

Thanks for contacting me; if you email me at we can talk more.