Sunday, July 20, 2008

more images of recent sculpture

more images of sculpture:
The reddish leaf pattern is one of a pair of relief pieces in earthen plaster, which were done to decorate side panels on one of the performance stages at the Kerrville folk festival in Kerrville, Texas. It was a shared project that came out of a decorative plasters workshop at the Texas Natural Building Colloquium — many folks took part, all drew up various ideas, and the group chose this pattern, which is one I’ve been working and re-working in various materials and various settings for several years. This is the biggest!

Friday, July 18, 2008

recent sculpture

The tall cedar piece I just finished for a friend who had experimented with growing wheat; she asked for a vertical sculpture to fit a space in front of her house. All the grasses were just coming up when I started, so my model was a very early stage of growth when the first leaves are just unfurling. I started w/out drawings, which meant that when I needed a second look, the grasses had advanced to a completely different stage, and I had to work from memory and imagination. The piece of cedar was probably cut from an old snag by a local homesteader, sometime in the early 1900s, and split into a post that held up a barn. When the homesteader’s grandson repaired the barn, he took a couple of old posts out, and I got lucky. There was an old square nail embedded in the wood, which shows up about 1/3 of the way up, as a dark bruise and a scar. I finished it with a torch and oil.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oven dome height for different size ovens

In the space of two days, I got two emails from people asking the exact same question. So here’s clarification, which I’ll have to include in the next printing! Thanks to those who wrote...

“Typical dome height” is 16” (p. 51). Some pizza ovens are lower because they’re used exclusively for pizza, which means they can have a low door without losing the 63% ratio of dome to door height — and they don’t have to worry about getting a turkey through the door.

The previous edition didn’t specify an ideal height, and in fact, a high domed oven will work — the traditional southwestern horno is typically quite high. In general, however, for bread ovens you don’t want to increase oven volume any more than you have to, as it reduces the concentration of steam — and steam is what causes the formation of an ideal crust. In addition, your door would have to get higher and higher in order to maintain the 63% ratio.

If you make a really large oven, it gets much trickier maintaining the right curvature of the dome to keep it from falling in (“large” might be 10 feet wide or more...). But otherwise, I use 16” as a standard height for 22”, 27”, 36”, and larger ovens. The largest I’ve built was 4 feet across, with a 16” dome.

At that size, I was very careful to make sure that the shape of the dome was truly catenary. In fact, I made a template by hanging a loop of heavy cord so that the ends were 48” apart, and the center hung down 16”. I traced the line, cut it out, and used the template to shape the sand form so that I would be sure of the strength of the dome.

The little pic is a postcard of a typical Southwestern horno — clearly more than 16” high inside the dome.