A Cob Table, or How To Camouflage Tires

The project: tire table and Harry's hat.

When I moved to this property thirteen years ago, I inherited a lot of ‘leftovers’ from the previous owners.  Included were three truck tires, one with  the wheel.  I’ve used them over the years to block a hole under the fence to keep my dogs in and to direct rainwater.  When rolling them once again across the property to hide them, I realized that they needed to be re-purposed.  If I stacked all three tires together, they’d be just tall enough to be a table.  And a table is just what I needed next to Harry Mud, the cob baking oven. Cob, you remember, is an olde English term for building material made of sand, organic material and clay. I wanted to demonstrate cob building material at the AAUW Garden Tour, so earlier that week I cobbed.

I also wanted to add a chimney (or stovepipe hat!) to Harry, since I found a piece left over from my wood burning stove. The chimney would direct smoke up rather than out the front and into one’s face. A chimney isn’t essential for a cob pizza oven, but it can’t hurt.

Harry's fancy new stovetop hat, in progress.

 I built a sand base to represent the new hollow space in front of Harry.  I cobbed around the sand, and around the top hat (stove pipe). Joining wet cob to dry cob can certainly be done; I moistened the dry cob slightly first and had no trouble with separation with this small project.

I sifted some dirt, but then realized for this layer I didn't need to.

Cob can be done on a tarp, which helps mix the ingredients when you pull the ends towards you.  Making cob is simple and everyone can enjoy it!

Marge does a great job mixing cob! (She adds some organic material, too!)

The tires were stacked with the wheeled one on top; a post just taller than the middle of the wheel was inserted down the center for stability and then filled with leftover sand, rubble left over from urbanite, and broken bottles that had been dug up on the property.  All candidates for landfill, all of which became useful.  Across the top I put a board to firm the counter

Broken bottles joined bits of rubble and sand as filler.

I began to cob around the bottom of the tires, making a thick base. 

A wide cob base.

  I kept mixing and cobbing, making sure to push the new layers of cob well into the one below so they wouldn’t crack and fall off.

The work area; about 85 degrees that afternoon, too.

I was trying very hard to make a mushroom-shaped table, but I failed completely and settled for a cylinder.  This layer is shaggy with straw because I needed very firm cob to hold together, since it wouldn’t adhere to the tires.  Another time I’ll put a smooth, decorative slip coat on both the table and Harry.

Nearing completion.

The cob was done for the tour and there were many interested people looking it over.  I especially saw many husbands shrink into themselves as their wives grew more excited about an outdoor cob pizza oven!

Cob table and Harry's hat, with information sign for Garden Tour.

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