Teaching cob oven making in the Brecon Beacons

Manifest are delighted to be closely associated with the Fathom Trust, who provide vital and imaginative services within Wales, working with local health providers to promote craft, contemplation and conservation.  Hugh Conway Morris acted in this project as a dedicated crafter, bringing expertise in cob building to the participants in a seven-week course on oven building, from mixing clay subsoil to the final day where we made our own pizzas.

The local soil, sourced from the field next door, proved to act well in a cob mix, its pinky-red characteristic of this part of Wales.  Mixed with local straw, we shaped it into a cob oven, who affectionately became known as “Freddie” during the course.  The structure was finished with an earth plaster and a pinky limewash, pigmented with the finest clay particles sieved from the soil.

An added bonus was a supply of Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), which had come from the grounds of a large house in nearby Herefordshire.  We milled slabs on site to make roof timbers, finishing them with recycled Welsh slates, to provide protection against the rainy south-westerlies which sweep up the valley at Fathom’s base in the Beacons.