As we’d arranged yesterday, I went down to The Plots for a little before 10.00 this morning.

I was first to arrive, so busied myself opening up the top metal shed and getting stuff ready for today’s action.

Obviously, little Mitzi-Moos sauntered over to see what all the fuss was about, and obviously, I made feeding her my top priority.

They say that: ‘Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman’.

This may be true, but you can take it from my own personal experience that: ‘Hell hath no fury like a hungry cat’.

For today’s fun, I needed the clay we’d puddled yesterday plus a load of straw that Diane had got some months ago.  I also needed the ground sheet down, a humper partially full of cold water and a couple of clean towels from my gaff to dry my feet on later.  Today, I was going ‘bareback’ right from the start -no pratting about with wellies for me!

Just as I started to think about taking my shoes off and getting stuck in, Jordan arrived on his bike, so when we’d safely stowed that, I explained the mission in hand.  Well, he was into it straight away -shoes and socks off before I’d even unlaced my boots!

Like yesterday I didn’t take any pictures of our dancing on the clay and straw because I feared for my camera, but take it from me, we had a Big Lot of fun!

The trick we found was to take the clay then really stamp it all out as big and flat as possible to get the greatest possible surface area.

Then, I liberally sprinkled handfuls of dry straw all over the top.  We then ‘folded’ the clay over by lifting up the edges of the polythene ‘tarpaulin’ we’d used yesterday until it fell in on itself.  We then continued to trample the clay, getting as much of the straw well mixed into it as possible.

When this was as large and flat as it was the first time, we’d sprinkle some more straw over it and repeat the folding process all over again.  All great fun, and much easier than yesterday and we found that our feet didn’t get half as messy either.The start of the seond, straw layer.

After about half an hour of this, we thought we’d got the straw mixed in well enough to start the really fun part of putting the clay onto the oven itself.

At this point, Matt arrived, so that made it much easier.  I could be ‘strawing-up’ the clay while he ‘domed it’ in place.

To the right here is the only bit of actual ‘plastering’ I did today -Matt and Jordan did all the rest, but they were quite happy doing this and they made such a marvellous job, who was I to argue?

They layered up the clay in the same way as we’d put the first layer on the sand dome last year -starting around the bottom and laying ‘sausages’ of the clay-straw mix all around, then moving up a layer and carrying on.Matt and Jordan having fun!

To the left here, you can see them both hard at work, and you can clearly see how this layer was building up.

The rate they were using this clay, I soon realised that I’d have to get a move on to keep up with them -I didn’t want them waiting around for me to finish!

The next load I did was one of the ‘load-and-a-halves’ from yesterday.  These were two loads that Shaun and I had done, but the one that Diane was working on was a little too ‘runny’, so we split it across our two loads and mixed it in well to get it to a better consistency.

In went a Big Lot of straw, and away I went, happily bouncing around as if I was at step classes.  All I needed was a bright leotard and some mindless pumping disco music at full volume.

Luckily, even though I had my radio with new batteries in it around, I forgot my leotard, so the Good People of Southey were spared.

With hindsight, this was probably for the best.A monk's 'tonsure'?

After I’d done this ‘load-and-a-half’ I was sure this would be enough to finish the whole dome, so I washed my feet, dried them and put my shoes and socks back on.

But as this photo to the right shows, I was wrong!

Anyway, it was gone 1.00pm, and time for lunch.

While Jordan and I went up for a sandwich from up the road, Matt put the kettle on for a well-deserved cup of tea.

After lunch, Jordan had to go, but I took my shoes and socks off again, and did a little dancing over a smaller amount of clay for this area and for around the hatch.

I did this in no time, and Matt skillfully finished it off so we could light it.

Now, I said yesterday that we’d cook some lunch on it, but what with one thing and another, we decided not to.  We’ll save the cooking for another day!Finished!

To the left here, you can see it after we’d lit it, and please don’t be put off by its ‘scabby’ appearance!

As I’ve previously said, this layer is mainly for insulation, and will be totally covered up.

Tomorrow afternoon, Matt and I plan to resume with the final layer which will be smooth and perfect.

We have about a mix of puddled clay left, so my job will be to puddle some more while Matt carries on with this final, beautiful layer.

Matt is already thinking of the kinds of artwork it will have, and I for one can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

Watch this space for more details!

Print Friendly