Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


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Cob Oven Workshop at OM

Spring is here again!! Flowers blooming in the fields, cherries growing plump on the trees, strawberries ripening, bees buzzing, greens growing everywhere… and we have been busy busy planning, growing, and BUILDING! Our most recent build is our beautiful, brand new, earthen cob oven.  Lots of local folks came out to help us with the project, friends from East Wind Community, folks from the Ava Growers Market, and some good friends from down the road. Most of the materials were sourced from the land we call home. We dug the clay from a hole next to the Outdoor Kitchen, shoveled creek sand into buckets and hauled it up here, and the platform the cob oven sits upon is built from beautiful large rocks from the creek bed. We used firebrick that we salvaged from here and there, tiles for a lovely countertop also laying around on the property… this land is just full to the brim with useful supplies!

timberframe

The structure on the left was built over the Winter and finished this Spring using roundwood Cedar timbers from our beautiful forest. It is primarily timber framed and we attached it to the timber frame building on the right side which was built several years ago by a former Communard. That beautiful structure on the left side there surrounded by river rocks is our cob oven platform. There are pallets on top of old metal barrels that act as the real structure, all sourced from our scrap piles, and the rocks serve as beauty and form. We filled the pallets with a simple clay and sand cob mixture to insulate the cob oven.

We began the build by first setting up fire bricks where we wanted the cob oven. Then we made a form by putting some salvaged cinder block and a bucket full of bricks to take up space within our sand form. The sand form was made from sifted creek sand and water, basically like building a sand castle, but a sand igloo! This is just to make the shape of the cob oven. You build the middle to be the size that you want the interior of the oven. When the oven is dry, we will dig out the sand castle and remove the blocks and bucket. Once the form was complete, we covered it in wet phone book paper. This is to insure that the sand igloo doesn’t mix with the cob and making it easier to dig out.Without this you could easily dig out extra or have sand falling onto your first pizzas.

Cob cob COB!!! The mixture we ended up using was one bucket of clay to two buckets of sand, give or take some handfuls. With every batch we mixed, we did a drop test to check the consistency. After stomping and mixing the clay and sand and water thoroughly, we took a handful of it and kneaded it about 50 times, then dropped it from chest height onto the tarp we mixed it on. If it crumbles and breaks apart, there is too much sand. We always veered on the side of too much sand and gradually added more clay until we could drop it without crumbling. Too much clay in the mixture will cause more cracking as the oven dries. The ration of sand to clay in cob will vary a lot from place to place depending on the amount of silt and soil in your clay.

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First layer of cob is complete, about 4 inches thick… now for the second layer!!

After a firey Beltane and cob celebration, we went to bed, woke up the next day, and went wild with more mud for layer two of the oven! We didn’t get as many photos of the beginning stages of this layer but it went on the same way, from the bottom up. This layer is made from the same clay and sand mixture with added straw this time for extra insulative properties. This layer was intended to be about 3 inches thick but is between and 4 and  6 inches in many places. We decided when the oven is dry we are going to chisel out the door a bit and make it wider so we can fit up to 14 inch pizzas in there!  During this awesome workshop, we splurged on loads of yummy pizzas from our small cob oven that we completed a couple years ago. Wish I would have snapped some shots of our scrumptious yummies! I promise they were beautiful. So now we are letting the cob oven dry out for a while. We may add some sculpting to the oven to make her super awesome and one of a kind and we will add a plaster and mosaic once she’s dry.

cob-oven

This is our mini cob oven, built long before the Outdoor Kitchen extension. We still use it once a week for pizza nights!

Hope you found this inspirational and educational! Let me know if you have any questions and get out there to play in the mud…

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Building a Cob Pizza Oven

Outdoor cooking can be a sustainable alternative to cooking with electricity indoors and it’s so much fun to join around an outdoor kitchen, especially when there is pizza involved! Here at Oran Mór we use our cob oven to bake breads, pizzas, squash, and even make soup. One of the best parts of cob pizza ovens is the building of it!! So when a friend of ours reached out for help to get a cob pizza oven erected in time for the Healing Retreat at Celestial Spring Herb Farm, we were all over it!! (Side note- Celestial Springs offers fabulous herbal products on their website.)

If you have ever thought of building a cob oven, I highly recommend it. The baked goods that come out of these ovens cannot be beat! They are incredibly fun to build, especially when you get your local community, friends, and family to come out for a work party! Here are some photos of the two day cob pizza oven work party that we were a part of.

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Springtime Crafts – Get Outdoors!

The sun has been shining warm and bright for days now here in Missouri. Almost every night we get a beautiful Spring shower and the afternoon clears up to a beautiful day! Birds are chirping, squirrels are coming out of their homes, and I spend time outside every chance I get!

Today I’ve compiled a list of fantastic springtime crafts that you can make outdoors, display outdoors, and ones that are just plain Springy! Hope you enjoy…

tassels

How to Make Fabric Tassels – These tassels are so cute and can be made out of any scrap fabric you have laying around, so they’re eco-friendly too! Once you’ve put it together, you can drape them from your balcony, front porch, tree house, or fence!

pots

Ideas to Dress Up Flower Pots – I love having all sorts of vintage and crafts flower pots on our patio outside. They’re fun to decorate, fun to plant in, and it looks absolutely adorable to have a patio full of potted plants! Check out these adorable ideas to get some inspiration.

herb spiral

How to Build an Herb Spiral – These are a fantastic way to make the most of a small space, because they are built vertically in a spiral shape. They are beautiful and can be built in such a way that they require very little watering.

gourd birdhouse

buy gourd birdhouses on etsy

Making a Gourd Birdhouse – I grew some gourds last year for the soul purpose of turning them into birdhouses! I haven’t done it yet, but I will let my readers know when I’ve done it! Here is some really useful information about the size of gourd and hole size for specific birds – Gourd Nesting Requirements

Are you planning to do any fun outdoor projects now that it’s Spring? I hope these ideas inspire you and please share with us some of your Spring ideas and activities!

This post was originally written for EcoEtsy here.


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How to Make Reclaimed Wood Shelves

Today I’ll be sharing a DIY tutorial on how to make wood shelves from logs. The look of them is totally natural and brings an outdoor, serene feeling indoors for you to enjoy.

woodshelf

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The wood I used for this project came from a local man who sustainably harvests trees from the forest on his property. This tree had already been chopped down a time ago. I initially bought the wood from him to use for painting on, but I decided to turn a few of them into bookshelves for my room! The man I purchased the wood from took one of his logs and cut it with a chainsaw into rounds about 3 inches thick. If you have a chainsaw you could easily do this all on your own!

Supplies –

  • round pieces of wood about 3 inches thick
  • sandpaper
  • linseed oil
  • circular saw
  • wall brackets
  • level
  • drill
  • pencil
  • screws and anchors

You should be able to find all these things at your local hardware store (aside from the sustainably sourced wood rounds).

Step 1

woodshelf

On a sturdy, flat surface like a workbench, cut your wood round in half using a circular saw. Carlos did this part for me using the wooden bench we have on our patio.. I recommend something more suitable as this bench was a little low.

Step 2

Sand your soon-to-be shelves and coat them with multiple layers of linseed oil. Linseed is a natural substance that is derived from flax. I recommend putting three layers of linseed on your shelves and letting the oil dry between coatings.

Step 3

Now you’ll need to figure out the placement of the wall brackets. Take the flat side of your shelf and put it up against the wall where you want it. Hold a wall bracket to one side of the shelf so one flat side is up against the wood and the other flat side is on the wall. Take your level and make sure that the shelf is straight!

woodshelf3

For me, it was good to have an extra pair of hands. While holding the bracket up to the wall, take a pencil and mark a dot for each hole of the bracket. This marks where you will drill the holes!

Step 4

Now you can drill the holes! Make sure to use the proper drill bit so you can fit an anchor into the wall before inserting the screws. This will depend on the size of holes in your wall brackets and the size of screw you use. An employee at the hardware store could help you with this.

Once the holes are drilled, insert the anchors into the wall and then screw the anchor onto the wall with your drill or a screwdriver.

Step 5

Once your first bracket is attached to the wall, it will be way easier to attach a second bracket. Set the shelf on top of the wall bracket that you just attached and make sure that it’s level. Now take your second bracket and place it on the other side of the shelf and mark the holes on the wall, just like the first bracket.

Step 6

Drill the holes for your second bracket and insert the anchors. Then take the bracket and screw it to the wall with your drill or a screw driver.

Step 7

Now that you have the anchors screwed safely into the wall, it’s time to attach your shelf! Place the wood shelf flat side against the wall and once more, make sure it’s level. You don’t want your books and knick knacks rolling off onto the floor… If it’s level, you’re ready to attach it! No need for anchors.. just attach some screws through the wall brackets into the shelf and it’s done!

More home decorating tutorials –

Have you ever put shelves on your wall? Do you have some tips to share? What home decorating DIY are you going to take on next??

 

This post was originally shared on the EcoEtsy team blog here. We are a group of earth conscious artists making a living by being as green as we can!