This report from Kerry Hunt Garden Coordinator at Enfield Public school, about building there oven.
We got all of the structure done on Friday with the kids from 4/5L. They worked like Trojans, through recess and lunch with only a few drop outs due to too tired or playing around with water. I had kids come up from other years to help during the sports afternoon they were so keen to get involved. a very rewarding experience all round.
As we were building it i noticed that the door was in the wrong way but it was easy to rectify , the cob is very for giving!!
The chimney will be a copper pipe as a flue will see if this works !
Putting on the insulation coat was interesting especially as needed to get the confidently right and ensure it all stuck on. It completely fills the Hebel panel other than a small corner at the back on each side.
We erected a tarp over on Saturday morning as it was looking threatening and finished off the insulation coat and the top coat and placed a goanna sculpture on the top
The kids understood the delineation of labour and roles and worked really well together. Everyone wanted to be involved and even those who forgot to bring in their notes went and rang parents to make sure they could participate.
We used several cut up tarps that i had lying around and the kids separated into 4 groups 2 cob makers, 2 brick makers and then they took turns to mix and make. A water bottle was the ideal size for the bricks and we had a quality controller for the consistency of the bricks who did very well.
The clay is so textural it was hard to stop the kids from keeping on moulding and smoothing the surface!!!
Mixing the cob with water and the dust was a heavy dusty job so we kept the kids out of that until there was only me and i could not do it any longer!!
The comments from the kids included, "the best day of my life", the most fun i have had working, if working is this fun it would be good.!!
I think the results and achievement they all felt at the end if the day was great and they were happy they got to participate in the whole of the project rather than the parents doing it. ( Mind I think i had the most fun because i got to do everything!!)
VJ was a fellow that came from India to visit Australia and learn about permaculture and after attending the permaculture design course with Bill Mollison in Tasmania, he visited the Sunshine Coast where he was staying for a while and trying to raise money to build a permaculture orphanage in India. The orphans that came about as a result of prostitution in India were outcasts from all levels of Indian society and VJ wanted to help these children. His plan was to obtain a patch of land, build the buildings and run the gardens in a self-sufficient manner using permaculture principles. As a fundraising effort, we arranged for a number of workshops where VJ would teach us the art of traditional tandoori oven building and how to cook tandoori chicken, naan bread and various other indian dishes.
I was surprised to learn that the tandoori oven was constructed using a terracotta pot and an insulative render consisting of nothing more than clay, sand, straw and fresh manure. From my technical background, I didn't think that this material would work and it would need other binders such as cement and lime to be effective. VJ assured me that these additives were not only not necessary but detrimental to the performance of the render and also to our hands as most of the render is applied literally by hand. Being a solid plasterer I'd always suffered from dermatitis caused by exposure to cement and lime. I realised the benefits of using a purely natural product. In fact, working in the clay actually cures any dermatitis I have on my hands before I start. To my surprise, the natural render we used worked beautifully and proved highly effective and durable.
I also discovered the beautiful peaceful feeling you get when working with natural clay. How easy it is to form shapes and create a beautiful or even sensual surface finishes smoothing your clay with your hands and water is an incredibly sensual experience. I've had many other people relay similar experiences from working with these materials. From this first experience with Clay Renders I realised the future of sustainable renders, texture coatings and paints were literally right under our feet.
Rockcote Founder & Managing Director