Posts Tagged ‘Assembling a wood-fired oven’

A Smokin Idea for The Factory: Wood-Fired Oven Installation in a 97 Foot Chimney That Is!

97 Feet UP!

Interior 97′ Smokestack

This ought to be tall enough for a wood-fired oven chimney don’t you think? It’s not necessary of course, but….some ideas are BIG ideas and this one is BIG as well as TALL! Project Manager, Maxime Theberge of The Factory in High Point, NC  wanted a bold and innovative idea to come together for this restored old mill dating back to the early 20th century, formally the Adams-Millis Hosiery Mill.

The Factory

Now it is the home of a furniture showroom and is  soon to be a destination for the High Point Market. This oven installation will be part of an entertainment venue, that  not only has character but will be serving up some delicious fare to those attending  events.  Fire and wood-fired ovens are always a great draw and a crowd-pleaser and we’re thankful to have been a part of this project!  Jim Erskine with The ARCH, was contacted Spring of 2012 as he is known for his competent masonry skills and Forno Bravo oven installation work. Well, this isn’t a typical installation for wood-fired ovens, but Jim was definitely stoked, jazzed, excited, you name it!, and  between all the professionals looking at the engineering of this project it was given a green light!

Though I see a rather blue white moon light…oh wait, that’s not the moon at the top of that smoke stack, that’s daylight and that’s where climbers Michael Grosser and Leo Dupuis clipped their way up the interior rungs of the smoke stack  and then helped guide sections of the selected Forno Bravo Modena 120 commercial wood-fired oven down the stack! 

Four of the sections fit through the hole at the base, but the plan was to maintain a smaller opening and lower two of the six sections with the use of a crane,  guided by Michael Grosser at the TOP.  Several days prior  to “the drop”, Jim had to get through this massive wall. Not what you call a highlight but he made it through this thick wall and then built an oven floor after gravel was poured into the base, cement, re bar reinforcement, the works….

Building the floor

Jim accomplished the hole in the wall and oven floor days before the crane was scheduled to provide their expertise…. and expertise was the case. Hats off to crane operators!

Not a bump going down the stack, and with the assistance from Michael at the top (to start the guided lowering of the sections), they were received  by more brave souls at the base. (They waited until the piece was nearly at the bottom, stepped in and guided the final landing of the sections).

Going UP

With a lot of patience and teamwork the six section oven kit was in place. (There is also a side access hole about fifteen feet up the right side of the smoke stack.  Perhaps future climbing expeditions?)

Setting the Cap

Finally, a customized “smoke stack chimney cap” was lowered onto the top… another success!  This cap was beautifully constructed and a necessary component. This time Leo Dupuis braved the climb up the smoke stack  and guided the landing of the cap at the top.
The weather was drizzling most of the day but thankfully the wind wasn’t up. The next day more insulation and finish work was completed to the dome. Jim thanks all of those that helped with this project.

Jim Erskine and Tom Silver

Ready to start curing!

Next step…… to enjoy some phenomenal food and watch the smoke rise from 97 feet up!

For  more information give us a call at The ARCH 171 Weaverville Hwy Suite 103 Asheville NC 28804  828 253 5455
For more images visit Jim’s Wood Fired Ovens Facebook page album
For Forno Bravo oven and outdoor fireplace sales and installation information call Jim Erskine 828 768 4438 or email

Mosaic Artistic Tile Adds Art to Forno Bravo Wood-Fired Oven Arch

Tiled arch of Forno Bravo wood-fired oven utilizing local art tile and simple stones

The flame is being fanned all across the country for Wood-Fired Ovens and the delicious food and entertainment they provide. We’re fanning the fire for exciting tile installations! We recently installed the tiles shown here on the arch of our own oven at our home.  There are so many ways to use tiles on an oven installation but I suggest including something creative into your oven design whatever you do. Break the boredom and drop the minimalist look from time to time!

You can choose tiles that are colorful, whimsical, classic, craftsman,  Latin, glass, stone; the possibilities are endless. Mosaics flow nicely and so believing I could work with the pieces we decided to combine these classic handmade decorative  art tiles with a simple grey stone, both of which are available through our showroom The ARCH. Just give us a call and we can discuss creative ideas with you. I selected a grey grout which still allows for the various stone colors to pop out. Over the years the dark grout color won’t get dirty in appearance and it tones down the brighter tiles to blend with the earthy primitive nature of wood-fire cooking.

Sketch, plan, let it evolve.

Move the pieces around until they work. It changed from this initial plan but was part of the process.

I started with a cardboard template of the arch and some paper cut outs of the tile pieces and stone shapes to see how it would flow.

After sketching and playing with some layouts, I attached the template to an arch on one of our showroom Forno Bravo models. (The oven shown below is the Casa2G80 32″ interior diameter which happens to have the same arch size as our Casa2G90 36″ interior diameter oven).

Once all the selections were made I special ordered the metallic glaze beauties from a local artist whose work we display at The ARCH, and the stone tiles that come on a mesh material.

Continue to experiment with the arch

I hand picked the most workable stones, placed them on the template and played and played with them until they were working with the tiles.

I had to keep in mind that I would apply extra adhesive to the backs of some pieces.

Working with the pieces

Pressing tiles and stones into tile adhesive.

A few modifications from the original layout so I recommend careful measuring of the template.  The process installing the mosaic was more enjoyable than I predicted as I had not completed a mosaic before.

Applying tile adhesive with a putty knife

It was a very sculptural feeling when it came to moving the grout throughout the mosaic.  I used a grout bag to squirt the grout around all the pieces given there was so much variation in sizes and heights.  The highs and lows of tiles and stones all connected as I smoothed the grout between the pieces.

Sponging off excess grout and cleaning.

Finally, the arch was complete!

The counter surface will meet up with the oven floor entry for easy use when cooking.

It was a pleasure to finally relax and see the fire nestled in the oven with the tiled arch surrounding it.

Asheville Artisan Bread Festival- New Conversations for The ARCH

April 6, 2011 1 comment

Meeting With Peter Reinhart

We had the pleasure of having a table at The Asheville Artisan Bread Festival  to represent Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens last Saturday, April 2nd.  Surrounded by a host of talented bakers,  it was a welcome opportunity to “talk ovens”, learn more about baking, learn more about the  North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project (NCOBFP),  as well as sample delicious breads from the local bakers- a few further north as far as Pennsylvania.

Bakery Vendors

We were quite caught up in “one big wood-fired community conversation”. We talked with people from all over about all kinds of wood-fired cooking experiences, those that have built their own, those that own Forno Bravo ovens, and we shared our own experiences with those interested in purchasing their own ovens, the technical end of it, and just how to go about it in practical terms.

Jim talking ovens


Couldn't Resist

Some of the interests included creating a community oven for a local church,  restaurant inquiries, catering interests, community center interests, considerations for interior versus exterior installations, the use of accessories, and of course food, food, food.  The whole experience made us very hungry and we left with several loafs of bread.  We appreciated the opportunity to meet Peter Reinhart, author and baking instructor at Johnson and Wales University,and later attended a demo that he and Joe Lindley, owner of Lindley Mills in Graham, NC,  held at  AB Tech titled Baking with Sprouted Whole Grain Wheat Flour. We’re excited to watch the development of this amazing flour made by Lindley Mills, Inc. We felt quite privy to this introduction and  we were thrilled to leave with two bags of this new flour. We made some of our own bread the following day in our own wood-fired oven and are looking forward to more recipes and uses for this amazing new flour.  The raisin and cranberry focaccia that Peter had made and we all tasted  was superb.  Pretty amazing product, and as Peter remarked- it is likely to be “flying off the shelves”. Peter writes details in his blog about this Asheville event. If you  missed this year’s Asheville Artisan Bread Festival, perhaps you’ll make it to next year’s.  Next year we will likely have an oven model displayed, if not one fired up! Meanwhile, visit our showroom and see first hand our newest Casa2G80 modular oven kit.

Excitement Builds As Artigiano Hilton Head Installation Grows- Part II

March 25, 2011 1 comment

Excitement building? This is quite the understatement. Then too, you’d have to understand the passion owners Kathi and Jim of Hilton Head have for fine food and entertaining.  Just to set the stage,  we’ve had the pleasure of  joining Kathi and Jim  for several dinners  enjoying some fabulous flavors.  Most recently we enjoyed a fine meal prepared by Kathi who is a chef and lifelong student of the culinary world. “Food is my life”, Kathi has said several times.

Kathi Plomin and Jim Paolello mid-way through project. March 2011

As guests in their home we enjoyed many savory flavors. To name a few- on a wonderful antipasti platter Kathi and Jim shared an incredible  Auribella cheese they’ve been chipping away at for over two decades.  Down to the last few wedges we knew this was not dipped into often. We also enjoyed some fabulous Georgia shrimp in a saffron butter with melting sweet onions and Fennel  served over a creamy polenta. The conversation centered around not only our delicious meal, but  a spirited anticipation was busting at the seams regarding the outdoor oven project progress in the yard!   Several months ago we had the pleasure of getting to know Kathi and Jim over a fine dinner at Cucina 24 in Asheville. This was our earliest indicator that wood-fired Italian cooking was seriously  appreciated by Kathi and Jim.  We also enjoyed another fine meal at Pour Richards– which opened just a couple of months ago in the Bluffton area on Hilton Head.  Kathi worked for years with owner Richard Canestrari, Ally Rogers, and  several others now dedicated to the restaurant. The atmosphere was immediately welcoming.  The wood-fired oven (our common inspiration) was in view of our table and with high praises we will certainly be back when in the area again.

All this leads to the images of what’s being built in their own yard brick by brick, arches hand crafted,  and details carefully considered.

Interior dome of the Artigiano 120

Tom tending to grout

Arched dome over the dome

Details behind the counter wall.

They’ve put   more than “a little piece of them selves” into this project, they’re putting their heart and soul into a dream they’ve had for a very long time.

kathi and Jim placing the time capsule. This is their story!

A moment in time- capsule.

Not seen in the layout is what’s behind the bricks temporarily blocking the entrance of the oven-a space heater placed inside to achieve a head start in the curing process. They’ll soon begin burning wood fires increasing them in size to complete the curing process.

In good company

More finishes to go but a stopping point for the weekend.

It has been such a pleasure to meet Kathi and Jim  and to share their excitement throughout this project.  Kathi  said Jim may never come inside, but I have a feeling neither of them will.

Stay tuned for phase 3!

Artigiano Oven and Fireplace Installation Inspired by Hilton Head Couple

It’s no small project! It is, in fact,more than a project, it’s a vision and a passion of Hilton Head couple- Kathi and Jim. (What were the odds of Cathy and Jim working with Kathi and Jim?) Last Fall, with plans in hand and a dream in the making for some time, Kathi and Jim made a trip to Asheville to personally meet us  and make plans for an outdoor entertainment cooking area. We’ve appreciated their confidence and with a few good cups of coffee, the conversation quickly became lively. Instantly, we knew this project was not thought up on a whim. It was clear this was a project they had been planning carefully. What also became clear is Kathi’s absolute love of the culinary world.

Artigiano 120 has arrived! Jim Erskine and Tom Silver checking out the oven


Still getting to know Jim, I expect he’ll be a master of wood-cooking right along with Kathi.Two generous individuals from Chicago, they know their priorities, and have a sense of humor that may be coined ‘Chicago charm’ in Hilton Head if I may.

They are a lot of fun and from my understanding the golfers passing by are taking notice of the progression of their project.

Patience My Friend

Oven foundation

This series of photos will be the first of several.

Foor of the fireplace

Foor of the fireplace

With a little muscle...

They selected the Artigiano 120 brick oven which is gorgeous- a true work of art. For kicking back with a glass of wine and the evening sunsets they included the Calore2G105 modular outdoor fireplace kit which assembles within a day and can be finished as desired.

Calore2G105 Fireplace Kit

Jim’s masonry skills are evident as he works carefully  and is enjoying the installation of the detail brick that Kathi and Jim planned into their project.

Low wall with special detail

Their attention to detail is giving this design character and integrity. I love the special order brick selected, the water table brick detail, the herringbone pattern placed within the modular fireplace, and there’s more details to come in the next entry! At each end of the arched wall will be low walls at bench height creating a nice visual drop to the taller walls as well.  With some team effort the beautiful Artigiano brick dome was placed on it’s floor.

Detailed back for wood storage

Foundation work before oven set

Setting the oven on foundation

You'll notice Jim wanted a good look didn't he?

Progression of wall

Stay tuned for how this wall will progress northward with curves,  beautiful chimney caps, counters, and at some point glowing embers.

Artigiano Oven Project Inspired by Charlotte Couple

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Choosing to develop an outdoor wood-fired oven entertainment area requires careful planning.  Nilgun and Ray  from Charlotte, NC who have a  love for cooking and architecture carefully considered their entire layout for something they’ve put their heart into for their own back yard.  In November, after further conversations and consultation,  professional mason Jim Erskine,  and Tom Silver traveled from Asheville to Nilgun and Ray’s home in Charlotte with  mixer in tow and the necessary tools.  With warm greetings they then proceeded to build the outdoor kitchen structure and assemble the Artigiano Oven. Here is a slide show series of photos that shows the project from the slab up. Still to come will be the installation of an additional grill, counter surfaces, a pergola, landscaping and the best part- enjoying every bit of it.   The Artigiano oven is absolutely beautiful. The brick dome is handcrafted and arrives as one pre-assembled piece.   We hope to share more images as the project wraps up and share the joy that fine meals and gathering of friends brings from wood-fired cooking. Many thanks to Nilgun and Ray!

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Casa2G90 From Crate to Fire

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Aha! The big gift crate  exposed.

Further exposed

The nice thing about a modular wood-fired oven kit is that the weight is divided up making it easier to handle. It’s an advantage particularly if you have  difficult terrain to consider.  However, we absolutely love many of the  preassembled ovens. We chose the Casa2G90 because  the 36 inch oven base  is going to be a great size for  how we  cook,bake and it will be very suitable for demos. It’s  going to perform beautifully.

Ground  fill will cover the lower foot or two of the base so it doesn’t look so massive, and stone will cover the block.   We chose to build a center wall interior wall so the wood wouldn’t stray clear to the back and the benefit of added support for the oven floor is a plus.

Building the foundation.

Added interior foundation wall

Foundation process

After the dome is completed, the refractory cement is spread over all the joints and used up over the dome. Insulation is carefully cut and layered over the dome. It conforms really well but you have to be careful to avoid breathing the particulates. Lath and more refractory cement is layered over the insulation.   Jim continues with the brick arch, chimney and flue. It will all be covered with natural hydrated lime, stone, and tiles  so attention to the joints isn’t as refined as usual. But strong and level it is!

High efficiency Ceramic Blanket insulation

Layering the Ceramic Blanket insulation

Sealing the dome joints

The curing process involves gradual fires at very low levels and rises over the course of five days! At the end of the first day of curing you can bet a little celebration was in order!

Arch development. To be covered with tiles

Chimney and flue install

Curing process begins. First small fire