This was one of the most challenging ovens that Jessica has undertaken. One of our medium sized ovens might contain 100-150 pieces. This one has 250 pieces! This striking oven was conceived of as a room divider between a kitchen and a living room in an historical “New England” style farmhouse.
The central portion of the kitchen side has a black pizza oven atop a bake oven. On the right hand side is the stove top. The fire chamber below is used to heat both the bake oven and the stove top. Wood is burned directly inside the pizza oven. The heat generated by this side of the kachelofen is not retained in the thermal mass. This means that it can be used year round without overheating the room. All of the features on this side share one chimney. On the left hand side is a ledge that can be used as counter space, or even a cozy sitting nook!
A delicate relief pattern of a swallow accents the living room side of the unit. The inspiration for this pattern was found in a very special piece of jewelry owned by the client. We are particularly pleased by how the lines of the display alcove are mirrored by the fire chamber door. Beneath the door is a wood storage area. This side of the kachelofen is used for seasonal heating.
The crown corner kacheln are usually the largest pieces in one of our projects. They tend to get made toward the tail end of the production cycle, and because of this there is always a sense of excitement when it’s time to work on them. They are usually the most difficult and time-consuming parts to make. The corners are extremely heavy and unwieldy. Glazing is done by propping them up over a large container and pouring liquid over the piece.
This glaze yields a beautiful matte black finish with a subtle hint of green.
This is a massive kachelofen. Its overall height is 280cm (9’2″). We are looking forward to seeing it once the bench is built around the base of the unit and the rest of the room is completed!
It always feels great once the last few pieces of a project come out of the kiln. Our natural workflow has been interrupted by the pandemic, and it has often felt like things in the studio are taking longer to get done. Tasiana’s stove is a perfect example of this. Tasiana and Mathew signed off on this design back in September. Under normal circumstances these pieces would have been shipped out in January or February. The extra time involved however, turned into an advantage as we were able to refine the design of two parts of this stove. These refinements will make the installation process smoother!
The design includes a cat motif as part of a decorative garland around the top of the stove. We are extremely happy with how this section has turned out.
The last pieces out of the kiln were the abdeckplatten. These are the tiles that go on top of the stove.
If all goes well we will ship this project out by the end of May!
Barkley Hunt is a business owner, heritage mason, and occasional carpenter. He is best known for commercial and residential restoration in Toronto, Canada. In 2020 he started a podcast dedicated to traditional craft, trade and art. The Art of the Craft is a weekly podcast where Barkley interviews those who are passionate about the work they create and to inspire younger generations. Jessica was interviewed during the pandemic. You can listen to Jessica’s episode here.
Jessica and Barkley discuss the long and fascinating journey that brought her to Canada, and her lifelong fascination with kachelöfen.
Please rate, review and subscribe to Barkley’s excellent series!
One of the most important projects in Jessica’s development as a designer of kachelofen was the “Chesapeake” from 2012. This was her first kachelofen that included a heated bench. It was also her first “multi-use” design. The right hand side of the unit includes a bake oven and a cooking surface:
Cecile Davis, a local filmmaker, made this informative and fun video while Jessica and Mario were doing the installation.
The inner firebrick flue system of the oven is typically built in tandem with the outer decorative bricks. In this case Mario and Jessica had to do as much work as possible on the outside of the oven due to a catastrophic shipping delay! Hurricane Sandy had shut down much of the Eastern Seabord, and delivery schedules were completely thrown out of sync. This meant that the European portion of materials had not yet arrived when work commenced.
In the end they were able to make the most of things by taking a day off in the middle of the build!
One of the most challenging moulds that we’ve ever made was for this project. We wanted to reference the existing raised paneling in much of the house. We took meticulous measurements, and in the end decided to proportion the panels slightly differently.
Making the moulds was a multistage process because of the complexity of the design.
The first step was to make a positive wooden master mould (1). This mould obviously had no beading. From that we made an initial negative plaster mould. We planned to carefully drill rounded indentations into this mould using a drill press to create the beading (2a). It took quite a long time to find the right bit and determine the correct depth for the holes. Some of the test holes and mistakes can be seen in this photo. In the end we were able to find a router bit that worked perfectly. That gave us a master negative mould (2b). The final design called for 125 kachel, so we needed more than just one. From the master negative mould we cast a positive out of silicon (3). Silicon is more durable, and would allow us to more easily make multiple working moulds.
We ended up making a batch of eight working moulds. Two or three moulds ended up breaking during production, and needed to be replaced.
The moulds were pressed full of clay by hand and left to sit overnight. Kacheln were removed the following day.
After firing the pieces twice (bisque and glaze), the kacheln were packed up and shipped off to their final destination!
Last year we were featured in issue #58 of Świat Kominków (Fireplace World), a beautiful and glossy Polish publication dedicated to the culture of domesticated fire. The magazine mainly focuses on designs and trends in Europe, and so we were particularly thrilled when they chose to do a 5-page feature on us.
The article gives an overview of our process for creating a stove. It examines how we come up with an initial concept, through to the creation of bricks, and finally the construction of the final product. The magazine used photographs of 8 different projects that we’ve completed in the last few years!
Earlier this year we completed the most ambitious project we’ve ever done, from both a design and logistical perspective! The project was to create a kachelofen/pizza oven/open fireplace unit in a Victorian home.
Designing the unit required a site visit to get a sense of any architectural features that we could include. Several rooms in the house have raised wooden panels with delicate beading. These seemed like the perfect pattern to base our standard kacheln on. We ended up rotating the pattern vertically to better suit the project.
We also matched several other elements of our design to existing house parts.
One of our favourite elements is the doric column pattern that we used for the fireplace.
One of the stated goals of the project was to make something that felt like it belonged in a heritage building. Renovations were still ongoing when we completed our part of the project. We can’t wait to see photographs once the rest of the job is complete!
This Kachelofen is named “Oven of Fire and Myth.” It was originally created in 2011. At that time Jessica was working as a production potter, but really wanted to build kachelöfen. She had no clients for any stoves. It was a long, hard road to find her first clients, as here in Canada nobody knows about kachelöfen.
Jessica wanted to show that kachelöfen can be works of art. She decided that one way to find potential clients was to exhibit stoves in public art galleries. She was able to secure a show at a public art gallery in Guelph. Jessica teamed up with well known Canadian artist Ryan Price. Ryan used the clay surface as a canvas for his drawings. He primarily used an underglaze pencil for the work.
The oven was exhibited in two different public art galleries. It was originally shown at that the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (now the Art Gallery of Guelph) here in Guelph in 2011. It was later part of a larger, solo exhibition at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in 2014.
This was a very important part of our development as creators and builders of kachelöfen, so when it finally found a permanent home last year we were absolutely thrilled!