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 earlier this year. You can listen to all the episodes here.
Jessica and Barkley discuss the long and fascinating journey that brought her to Canada, and her lifelong fascination with kachelöfen.
Please listen to episode 14 to hear Jessica! And if you are interested, 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!
We received a delightful email from a customer who made infrared images of one of our Kachelofen. The results are fascinating!
The inner flue system of a Kachelofen is built with much thicker firebrick at the bottom than at the top. As the heat travels upwards through the oven, the firebrick becomes thinner and thinner. This is done so that the bottom heats up more slowly than the top. In theory this means that the entire surface of the unit heats up at a constant rate.
Every oven will have a few “hotspots,” but the overall effect should be a thermal mass that radiates evenly and slowly. It’s so nice to see that effect in these photos!
Thank you so much to Patrick and Karen for sending us these infrared images!
We’re off to the Blue Ridge Mountains this December to install a two-sided kachelofen in an historic century cabin. It all seems like an idyllic winter wonderland, and a perfect location for one of our stoves!
The main stove will be decorated with a traditional, hand drawn slip-trailed pattern. This is a photo of the pieces laid out on the floor of our studio:
The home owner decided to add another unit on the other side of the wall. The flue network will pass through a shared wall. This way two rooms can be heated with a single fire. Here are the bricks for the second oven laid out:
The concave shape of the “Schüsselkacheln” increases the radiant surface area of the bricks. This allows a slightly more compact oven design to radiate enough warmth for the area that needs to be heated.
The bucket of blue “wedgewood” glaze can be seen in the foreground of this photo. This was a wonderful glaze to work with. We work exclusively with Spectrum Glazes to achieve a wide range of results! Spectrum is a Canadian company that is a worldwide leader in glazing technology.
Designing and building kachelöfen has been the focus of Stonehouse Pottery for several years now. We’ve been so busy however, that we never quite clued in to the fact that our business name had become an anachronism!
For our 30th anniversary we’ve decided to fix it! We’re proud to say that we have a new identity. We are now Stone House Kachelöfen.
We worked with talented designer Gareth Lind to come up with a gorgeous new identity. A love of the work of Scottish designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh provided the starting point for the design. We adore the art nouveau feeling of this font (Xctasy Sans for those of you who are into fonts). We love Gareth’s attention to detail, and use of colour.
Our new wordmark and logo are wonderful:
This is what Gareth had to say about the ideas guiding the design:
Stacked words form the logo, just as stacked tiles form a kachelöfen. The key character – the Ö – is in orange, representing the door of the ofen. The umlaut is doubled to represent tiles and form a distinctive mark that is then used for social media and instances where you would like a more graphic look than the full wordmark.
We’ve got some big plans for 2019, and our new identity features prominently in them!