Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Not your typical Calistoga Mud Bath

The oven looks bigger every day. I think the more it is framed in, the larger it appears. Similar to what it says on your vehicle mirrors.

This week, the oven was framed in. It looks like a beast from the street, but we are glad it is in proportion to the humongo building. The framing roughly stands 12' tall and 10' wide. However, the building now appears to look abandoned with the occasional car parked out front. Believe me folks, we are working like crazy on the inside, you just can't see us. We are inside that big box that you see from the street laying fire brick, and working on the interior of the oven.

The most exciting part of the week was the oven received a mud bath! Dale and I drove to Portland at 6am on Monday to pick up the 4 bags of Kastolite. It is a high temperature, silica/alumina based material. Each bag weighed in at 500#. It's purpose is to insulate the oven and fill in any voids that may occur over time. It does not dry as hard as concrete, but more like a putty. This will also allow the oven to "move" as it heats up and cools down. Thanks to the llama trailer and a gas guzzling truck, we made it back in one piece. We had a crew waiting on this end to help us mud the oven. We had to do this when the weather was good because if this product gets wet, it is not usable.

So here we go a mixing it up. Not before Dale reads the bag and says it is going to cause cancer if ingested, so the mixers wore masks. John C. in the llama trailer filling buckets of Kastolite, Dale at the mixer, Louie pushing the wheelbarrow inside the bakery and me on top of the oven about 6' in the air with the scaffolding in front of the oven. We had a giant void to fill in the back of the oven (about 5'tall, 6"wide and 8' long). After I poured the first bucket I had groaning thoughts of how long this was going to take. The Kastolite has to be weighed and so does the water used to mix it. It does not pour, it is like muck, so it dumps out. Louie had to lift 5 gallon buckets of this stuff 5' up to the scaffolding to me and then I would crawl on the dome to the back of the oven to dump the mud until it was 5" thick and then move forward. There were times when I felt like Farrah Fawcett in her naked painting days. I was covered in muck crawling all over the oven with no room for stopping. 4 hours later, we reached the front of the oven with a bit of material left to use at a later date. Thank you so much guys, we could never have done it without you.

Dale is making great progress on facing the oven and building the bridge between the front of the oven and the first arch. I told John last night that Dale doesn't sleep at night and that's the first thing Dale said to me this morning...."I was laying in bed awake last night...." Thank you Dale, I know this is a much bigger project than we both imagined. I believe we are over 1300 fire brick at this point.

The chimney is soon to go up on the outside of the building. We are still deciding on how to face the oven. We will have a 7' bull nose brick shelf across the front. This will help when we rotate the breads half way through baking. We will probably go with a cobblestone finish as we need a material that will handle firing of up to 1200 degrees each night.

All of the doors are now in the bakery. We love the double doors going out to the garden area. The sheet rockers are starting on Saturday and will be there for 1 week to sheet rock, tape, mud and texture.

We also purchased the paint for the exterior of the bakery. It is a beautiful......oh, I'll keep it a surprise. It should be painted in the next dry spell.

The counter top will arrive on Monday. It is in 2 sections. A 16' section and a 10' section. This will act as the bread bar, espresso bar and the platform for any late night crazy dance parties.

The Oregonian article should be out sometime this month and the Oregon Wine Press will also feature us in April. We are so grateful for the interest and support we are receiving from our friends and the folks of Falls City.

Off to make chalkboards for the bakery!

Keith and John
The Bread Board
Where Food, Culture and Community Intersect.

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