I suppose that as I get excited about new ideas through people and photographs and happenings, I subconsciously build my mental list of "things I want to learn over the next 4 years." I feel confident in checking cob off the list. I aspire to learn the art of building thatched roofs (photo at bottom of post). As of tonight, I am feeling rather tingly inside about the prospect of learning how to build masonry ovens, and integrating one into my 2010 project. What could be a more natural progression of interest than from mud to fire?
Sit your eyes at the head of the table, and feast:
This one is so big because it not only provides heat, but some bells and whistles to boot. It looks like it has a bread/pizza oven above the firebox, wood storage (to really dry your wood out well for an efficient burn), a heated seat, a warming area for pots of food, and probably more (maybe hot water heating). The idea is that you burn a really hot and fast fire at the beginning of a day - the brick masonry stores all of the heat and then slowly radiates it, keeping the house warm for at least 24 hours. Because it burns so fast and hot, it's 90% efficient, whereas a cast-iron wood stove is typically 60% efficient, and a typical English brick fireplace is only 10% efficient (in terms of a fuel/heat ratio).
The ones below are more my style (those soft shapes!), and can definitely be mimicked using cob:
Below are some interesting masonry ovens for bread-baking: