Mike has long been interested in building something out of cob, and our yard is a perfect blank canvas for it. We've talked about cob benches, cob hot tubs, cob houses, but without any experience, and with hundreds of other projects, we've never moved forward with the idea. Until.. for a wedding present, our friend Bobby, a "professional cobber" offered to help us build a cob pizza oven. Our lives have been so busy with other projects over the last year and a half, that this past weekend was our first opportunity to get started.
Mike, with the help of Bobby and his friend, Clint, started off the day by collecting all the materials. Bobby says that the beauty of building cob is that you can use any number of materials to build the base of your structure. However, over the years of remodeling this house, we have unearthed a ton of brick, concrete pavers, keystone blocks and cinderblocks in our yard. We've just collected them in piles, as we didn't know exactly what to do with them. Until now. This was the best part of the project for me: seeing all that concrete junk going into something useful and beautiful.
Above are the materials that we've collected so far. As you can see, we've done a lot of drinking to collect all those bottles. And by the end of the day (our first 70 degree day of the year!), the pile had grown significantly. We purchased the sand, Bobby brought the paper dust, and the gravel was taken from the front of our house (see photo below), where for some unknown reason, the previous owner had mounded it up at the side of the driveway.
The general outline for the foundation is dug. Shortly after, it was filled with gravel and tamped down.
It was determined that the foundation had too many gaps between each keystone block, due the "lips" on the back of each piece. The only way to fix that was to break the "lips" off.
It was at this point in the day that the cloud cover rolled in, the drowsy-inducing effects of the beer took over, and the bellies began to rumble. So we covered the materials in preparation for the incoming rain, and are now waiting for another sunny day to carry on. In honor of our future pizza oven, I made up some pizza dough*, and Jessica brought over a whole bunch of vegetables to throw on it, and we all retired to the couch with another beer.
To note, when I say "we" in the above descriptions of today's events, it is the royal "we", as I participated very little in this stage of building. I was however, painting the side of the house (yet again):
*When Bobby saw me making the pizza dough, in perfect deadpan, he said, "the pizza oven won't be ready today, Abby".