Workshop-Double Chamber Cob Oven

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double chamber cob oven

Ernie Wisner builds a double chamber cob oven.


Cob oven dragon

Our finished oven will look something like this (we hope)

Double Chamber Cob Oven Workshop with Ernie & Erica Wisner

Hosted by Elk Meadow Farm in Deary, ID on Friday June 30th thru Sunday July 2, 2017

Once you have experienced the thrill of wood fired cob pizza oven cooking and tasted /shared the results, you will have discovered your love for cob ovens. A wood fired cob oven is a foodie must-have! Cob ovens are great for baking and roasting too. Come join us in building an oven and let’s fire up your senses!

A cob oven is affordable, fireproof, inexpensive, beautiful and sustainable. You can build them yourself, incorporating unlimited creative hand-formed durable shapes. A popular backyard project made of earthen clay, sand and straw, these ovens can be built in a day or two. They burn scrap wood and can bake all day starting with pizza then moving to bread, roasts, stews and ending up with drying fruits/veggies and herbs or making a batch of yogurt. Erica says they make heavenly scones as well! We’re looking forward to trying that.

The simple dome oven uses a great deal of wood, produces a lot of smoke, and wastes a lot of the fire’s heat, but the double-chamber cob oven we will be building offers the same artisan baking quality, while burning more cleanly. In fact, the exhaust is four times cleaner than with a simple dome oven. The double-chamber oven includes a domed rear baking chamber and a front chamber with a chimney and special door for air flow during firing. A two to four hour fire can produce enough heat for eight hours of baking time.

In this course: Learn where to find soil for building projects, how to analyze it, and how to turn it into a viable building material. Participants will learn the traditional technique for foot-mixing cob (earth and straw) and will also learn why different cob mixes are needed for the different layers of the oven. You will also learn some of the tricks used in building fast, yet sturdy structures with sustainable methods.

To learn a bit about the oven we will be building you can watch this YouTube demonstration by Ernie:   

This workshop course for our double camber cob oven will cover:

  • A lecture/demonstration on Fire Science
  • Planning the cob oven
  • Designing the cob oven
  • Constructing and installing a double chamber cob oven (the base will be in place before the workshop)
  • Building a sand mold for the double chamber cob oven
  • Mixing and testing cob (monolithic adobe) and earthen plaster
  • Applying three layers of cob onto the sand mold

The earthen dome of the oven requires drying for a week or so before removing the sand, so we won’t be able to cook in the oven during the weekend, but we will be using the oven to cook with at later workshops. Embellishment onto the original smooth oven shape (see left photo at the top of this document) will happen after the class (as in the dragon photo—this or something like it).

Location: Elk Meadow Farm and Nursery, 1069 Elk Meadow Lane, Deary, ID 83823. Denice Moffat and Michael Robison own Elk Meadow Farm & Nursery, a 40-acre Permaculture Farm/Orchard/Bee Sanctuary established in December, 2008. Camping is available upon request. Please contact Denice for questions at or via phone (208) 877-1222.

Cost: $100/participant if paid 30 days in advance (Deadline: 5/30/17) and $120 the day of the workshop. Payment is due at the time of registration. We take cash/check/Visa/MC/Discover.

Course Outline/Agenda:

  • Friday start 5pm: Fire Science Demonstration. Erica and Ernie take us through the evolution of fire, using props, bricks and wood to demonstrate historic concepts and designs.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Mix mud, shape sand, solve design problems. Hands on construction of double chamber cob oven. Includes design concepts and detailing, earthen- and brick-masonry skills, and plenty of cobbing fun.
  • Sunday Wrap-Up: Questions and answers about artisan baking, kitchen design, and final details to be finished after the dome is dry and set.

Please bring samples of your own soil if you want to test if it is suitable for making your own cob. 

About the Teachers:

ernie and erica wisner

Ernie and Erica Wisner-Instructors for the Double Chamber Cob Oven Workshop.

Erica and Ernie Wisner will be coming from Tonasket, WA. They are a hands-on, seasoned team with an immense amount of creative, ecological and practical skills between them.

Erica Wisner is a science and art educator with a degree in Physics and Art. She also has architectural, drafting and engineering knowledge and loves wild-crafting and outdoor recreation. For five years she taught chemistry for all ages in the world’s first public wet science lab (at OMSI in Oregon). She has always been interested in how things work and is highly skilled at explaining science ideas in fun and useful ways.

In the late 1990s Erica began to use non-toxic, recycled, and sustainable materials from the natural world in her art and science projects. From 2005-2006 Erica worked for the City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon USA. City Repair promotes ecological and natural building methods in several ways, including a yearly Village Building Convergence which attracts people from around the world. It’s here that Erica and Ernie met.

Ernie Wisner is hands on, versatile and self-sufficient. He is a trained fire fighter, mariner, botanist, an excellent cook, and a handy man. He can fix practically anything. His motivation in learning many of these skills was to stay alive. Growing up on commercial fishing boats a kid learns to watch everything; maintaining all the equipment, in order to get home again.

On a boat voyage in 1996 that reached the North Pole, Ernie realized that fossil-fueled lifestyles wouldn’t last forever. After casting around for more sustainable options, in 2004 he joined the Cob Cottage team, working with Ianto Evans (the father of American Cob) and other alternative builders from around the world. One of their projects was researching and testing approx. 700 stove designs for the 2006 book, Rocket Mass Heaters.

In 2006, Erica and Ernie starting teaching workshops together. Ernie’s practical knowledge and Erica’s teaching skills combined beautifully. From 2007 to 2010 they co-taught Pyromania! workshops for Cob Cottage Company.

Together this dynamic couple have led workshops across the U.S. and Canada, and have consulted on projects in Argentina, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ireland, NZ, Mongolia, Kenya, and South Africa.

We’ll try to have some copies of their latest book: The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide on hand at the workshop as well. See:

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the workshops at Elk Meadow Farm & Nursery go to: