Two posts in as many days! Must be some kind of record.
Sorry if the last post seemed a bit dis-jointed. This WordPress blog site is flakey, with a capital shonky. It has a preview function; which you would imagine showed you what your post would look like before you hit the “publish” button – Wrong! The email bears as much resemblance to the preview as I do to George Clooney!
Today we embarked on the final stage of constructing the oven – plastering the dome. Apart from the cosmetic function, the plaster coat helps to waterproof the oven.
The first step was to cover the dome with a frame of wire. This reinforces the thin coat of plaster and keeps it from cracking. People refer to this wire as “chicken wire” – I used what was left on the role from making my pig pen, so I guess it is actually “pig wire” in this case. Grant reckons you could also use dead cabbage tree leaves. If you’ve ever had them wrap around your lawn mower blades you will know how fibrous they are.
The more astute of you will have noticed, from the absence of the brick arch, that I actually placed the wire a few days ago. The next step was to lay on a rough skim coat of plaster. No photos of how I did that, unfortunately, as I was on my lonesome and it is hard enough balancing a mortar board and trowel without having to cope with a camera. The skim coat beds in the wire and provides a key for the thicker decorative top coat(s).
Fast-forward a couple of days to Sunday, with the brickwork happening in between. Mort and Keith came around to give me a hand with making the top coat look presentable. As none of us had ever done any solid plastering before, so we were all playing it by ear and relying on advice from YouTube.
Mort decided that he would do the heavy lifting and leave the finer points of plastering to Keith and me, relegating himself to mixing duties. Quite altruistic of him we thought, until we discovered that after a brief flurry of placing all of the ingredients in the concrete mixer he was able to sit down and observe proceedings while the mixer did most of the work!
The plaster brew comprised four parts sand (we used the sand that formed the sandcastle for the dome – nothing like a bit of recycling to keep you feeling virtuous), 1 part ordinary Portland cement, and one part hydrated lime (this, I believe provides plasticity to the brew). On top of the basic plaster mix we added a waterproofing agent (not strictly necessary, but it does provide surety) and a colour to match the bullnose tiles in the mouth of the oven. Coincidentally, the colour turned out to be called “tandoori”. Now the oven can do double duty as a tandoor – how culturally appropriate. To provide further resistance to cracking we added a handful of polypropylene fibres to each mix. This spreads itself through the mix and, theoretically will hold everything together. The amusing thing is that the fibres stick out of the final coat and make it look as though a cat has been sleeping on it. Gaynor reckons it looks like a plucked chicken. I suppose they will disappear in time. If not, I might have to give it the old blowtorch to the Y-fronts treatment and singe them off.
Just prior to taking the above photo, Mort told Keith and I to “bugger off” and leave the mixing to him, as our advice was a case of too many cooks…
Here’s the finished item. I’m really pleased with it. It even looks something like my original sketch, that I drew up nearly a year ago (see the blog header).
We’re not quite there yet. I will leave the oven to dry some more before firing it up. So, expect at least two more posts. The next one when I plaster the support columns (I am hooked on this plastering game now), and the final one will record the ceremonial unveiling and first cooked pizzas. I am aiming for New Year’s eve for that.