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Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

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  • aosorio
    replied
    Man i've been thinking on this option for a while, i used to have a fireplace made of terracota and worked just fine, i'll try it and add the insulation layer outside and not inside. i'll kepp you all posted .

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  • david s
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    Clay undergoes the irreversible change at 573 C so that it won't return to mud if water is added. Glass usually melts at around 900C but every glass is different, artists who do glass slumping test each glass they use. Some even have a plastic content which makes them melt at an even lower temp.

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  • ThisOldGarageNJ
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    Hey Christo,,,,

    Did you melt the wine bottles on purpose ??? or were they just tooo close, ???

    Mark

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  • christo
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    could you make pieces from clay, dry them and fire them in the brick oven?

    i got my oven hot enough to melt wine bottles. would that be enough to shrink and provide some level of firing?

    christo
    Last edited by christo; 09-13-2009, 07:01 AM.

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  • ThisOldGarageNJ
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    David R,

    Very intersting concept,, Hope it works out as Im really curious and would love to build a 2nd, little oven like you describe just to try it,,, Maybe the alton brown model

    Mark

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  • ratbagradio
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    I've built my terracotta pot oven and am currently curing it. The one drawback so far is that because I layered a terracotta clay and perlite mix around the pot the mix shrinks over the underlying pot shape so cracks form in places which you need to render and fill with fresh mix.

    You always get shrinkage with clay I gather of some 12 or 15 percent depending whether it's green ware or whatever -- so when you are covering a large area this is going to happen as the coating dries. This is why , I assume, layering clay inside a tandoori shape is less problematical.

    [My original idea was to layer the clay mix inside the oven while the pot was upright and then invert it for baking on a flat hearth of bricks. But to make that worthwhile you really do need a large pot and two sets of hands to upturn the pot layered with clay-insulation mix.]
    But the design concept seems to work..so far. When I start baking I'll let you know.I have had a few big fires in the oven without any problems with the original clay pot. (If the pot does crack -- well then the dome remains as it in effect served me as form work).

    The other advantage , which I'm adapting, is that when you cut your door shape in the pot -- the first thing I did by using a file(easy it was too)-- you get a customized door. All I need to do is add a handle and push the cut out section into the door jam to lock in heat.

    Now if you were really taken with this notion, I expect you could cut yourself a door in a large pot and bury it in an embankment and try to harness the ground's thermal mass.(Or cover it with stones so long as they don't explode!) Your standard mud brick oven is really that...So if you wanted a quick oven, considering how the Maori create a hangi because with have-pot-will-travel --there's a quick and portable one right there. Lighter than a dutch oven too!

    You could go bush baking with your terracotta pot and I guess even bury smaller pots in the campfire coals!
    Just one further note on terracotta -- and I use it for sculpting occasionally -- the much admired Moroccan tagine pot with its unique conical lid is more correctly used on top of the fire/heat source rather than inside an oven. So you are applying direct heat to the terracotta base and using the terracotta conical roof to transfer heat throughout your casserole. But check out a tagine design and thinness and ponder the possibilities of terracotta... but reemmber with tagine on top of the stove you soak then m in water first.
    dave riley
    Last edited by ratbagradio; 09-13-2009, 01:11 AM.

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  • Archena
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    I can't take credit for the muffin idea. I'd read it from a guy who made several to try different mixes of cob.

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  • Les
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    Originally posted by Archena View Post
    How about trying it small scale first? Get a cheap, small pot, fix it and see if it will bake a muffin.

    Alton Brown made a smoker from two terra cotta pots so it might just work.
    Talk about baby steps - a muffin, that cracks me up (great idea though). Which brings me to topic - I agree with David, the terra cotta we have in the states are way to thin to be subjected to repeated heat that your oven will see. I would also be cautious where it came from - some countries don't give a damn what materials they throw into it. I can see it working as a smoker because mine runs around 180 deg F - not even close to the temps you will see firing it to what your pizza wants.

    JMO,

    Les...
    Last edited by Les; 09-12-2009, 06:14 PM.

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  • Archena
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    How about trying it small scale first? Get a cheap, small pot, fix it and see if it will bake a muffin.

    Alton Brown made a smoker from two terra cotta pots so it might just work.

    Leave a comment:


  • cecilB
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    I was thinking of the terra cotta covered bakers I've been using in my regular ovens for baking bread.
    I was also thinking it would be kind of a fun quickie thing to do to experiment with the baking of bread.
    But not to worry - the floor of the brick oven, once again, is coming along nicely, and I will have brick dome on top and not a terra cotta flower pot!
    still..........hmmmmm

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  • dmun
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    A terra cotta flower pot is typically pretty thin. It may not have enough mass to absorb and reflect heat down on you cooking floor. Also, terra cotta is not the best oven material. Like plain brick, it may crack and chip, or spall.

    Leave a comment:


  • cecilB
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    I think that terracotta flower pot oven is awesome! What a great idea - You can buy huge ones.
    My floor is getting ready to be laid (again - ack!) but why not just get a huge flower pot - maybe cut down to size, if need be, with an opening - the only other brick work would be the opening and vent?
    Then insulate the whole thing.
    Although, the thickness of the terracotta might not be great for holding heat for a long time...but then that's where the insulation thickness comes in....
    what a great idea....
    Cecelia

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  • ratbagradio
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    Wiley,

    I take your point but my thinking was that if I added unstable medium to the inside it would be protected from the weather and I'd retain an exterior look that would also hold its integrity without the threat of flaking, pealing and such as that medium would be protected behind the terracotta shield.

    I live in a sub tropical climate here in Brisbane.

    As for the internal oven volume -- I'm assuming that the key aspect is the diameter at the base and given that my usage would extend to pizzas, at most two breads at once, & my dutch oven or similar slow cook(eg: Tagines)-- I wasn't planning on creating a large dome to heat up. One that could hold my preferred menu items and a suitable fire seemed to suffice.

    So if I began with a base circumference of 50 cm (approx 20") and lost another 5-10 cms to insulation material as suggested I still had a cooking surface area of 40-44 cm . Is this too small for general ab hoc use do you think?

    I also have a lot of height, as this isn't a dome -- so I could also place a rack inside the oven if I needed to . Relative to my kitchen domestic oven ( electricity) that I cook every day in -- this is larger by a factor of one half at least.

    This is an occasional, beginners oven -- not a major project (thus I'm not planning to spend many $$$$ on it.) Inasmuch as I have had any wood fired experience -- I've cooked pizza in a community mud brick oven we built at our local arts centre (very small it was too) -- but I still fed 35 with a succession of pizzas.

    I'm thinking that once I get it to working order I can customize, by adding material to the outside, maybe as you suggested.

    This all began because we were doing up our kitchen and I was without cooking facilities for weeks. So I was preparing food on a throw together bbq using my preferred material -- wood under a hot plate. I hate using charcoal because it's so fiddly and often delivers cold food.

    Domestically I'm always cooking in Dutch style ovens and I often bake bread in terracotta pots.

    Since I have also trimmed back a lot of domestic trees I now have a good wood supply.And in our limited space we just parted with our above ground swimming pool and there is a big space -- a big hole actually -- just out from the veranda.

    So one thing led to another...."Why not a wood fired oven," says I," and preferably one I could move around if necessary?"

    When I started thinking this through I was exploring Dutch Ovens -- cast iron ones for the camp fire -- where you laid coals on top of the lid as well as below. But the problem there is that for baking or slow cooking you really do need charcoal/briquettes for your fuel medium as wood offers unreliable and uneven heat. Or you need to bury the oven in a pit with the fire and maybe stones -- like a hangi



    (While I love to wrap and prepare food in banana leaves (or aluminum foil-- it's an all day affair of preparation. and very fiddly.)

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  • Wiley
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    Dave,

    Either I'm mis-reading or simply simply do not understand, but why are you wanting to place insulating refractory (your link to perlite/clay mix) on the inside of your pot/WFO? I would think that you would want to increase the thermal mass by adding to the outside of the pot (thus maintaining the largest inside diameter) and then insulating over that added material.

    Bests,
    Wiley

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  • ratbagradio
    replied
    Re: Tarracotta Flower Pot Oven -- using two flower pots

    I've had a rethink...and since I have a very large terracotta pot -- 60cm diameter and a depth of 45 cm -- I'm thinking that the weakest feature of my original concept was the joining of the two pots. Too much can go wrong.

    So if I invert this single pot, and cut a door in the side -- just like the image I shared above -- I've got more control over the project.

    I'll use a carbide grit saw blade to cut the pot ( but have to decide on the door's shape and width) . So what's that? $5.00 , a few hours work and a couple of blisters.

    I then make a clay and perlite mix -- per this approach -- 85% Perlite: 15% clay -- and layer that on the inside of the upturned pot.

    Since I can expect at least 10% shrinkage I'll need to layer a bit extra as the lining dries but I'm unsure how best to do this with a Perlite/clay mix . I'm also hoping that the mix will form around the sides of the pot despite shrinkage. (When using Paperclay it's easy to simply lay clay over clay before any firing but I'm not sure how a mix like this. will perform.)
    An option would be to carefully do this in stages, forming a series of 'bricks' or just rims in situ (as one would coil a pot in clay anyway)and allowing each row or coil to dry a bit before creating the next row.
    So that's a bag of Perlite --$13- $20 (fine grain? expanded medium?) and a slab of Terracotta clay from a potters supplier-- $7.00 .

    I'll use at hand bricks or pavers on a base of sand and use the same clay/perlite mix to mortar them into place.

    My hope is that after consecutive burns I can bog up the Perlite/clay lining and build up the floor as shrinkage occurs.

    It may happen -- touch wood -- that if I can make a stable horizontal base and the lining stays in place I can lift and remove the pot/oven from the base for cleaning or whatever. So it could be portable at a pinch.

    If I can cut out the door/opening in one piece, I can perhaps consider drilling it and attaching a handle and -- with the clay/perlite -- make a door jam to but it from falling forward into the oven chamber.

    It seems to me, though that it would be a good idea to bury the outer circumference of the base in some medium that could be simply swept or shoveled into place. Perlite again perhaps --at the bottom of the chamber I don't want a draft.

    I also like this idea of recycling a tire for the base:




    How cool is that! I use tires for various odds and sods around the place anyway.

    (Thanks to The Breadhunter's Blog -- great blog!)

    dave riley
    Last edited by ratbagradio; 07-29-2009, 05:23 AM.

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