On-demand (starting September 1, 2024)

Horno Building – 2024 Online Bootcamp


This 6-module online bootcamp is an intensive introduction to building your own earthen oven, and can be completed at your own pace. Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide a baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen. You will gain the knowledge necessary to build your own oven, with materials you may already have in your yard. As an AIA-accredited class, architectural professionals will also have the opportunity to earn 10 HSW Learning Units.

Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide a baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen.


6 modules (8-10 hours per module). You will have until the end of the current year from the time of registration to complete the course.

Course Topics

  1. Local considerations and siting your earthen oven
  2. Soil and material selection, sourcing and testing
  3. Foundations and oven base design and materials
  4. Sizing your earthen oven
  5. Sand Form and oven domes
  6. Natural oven plasters and finishes
  7. Firing and baking in your earthen oven

Who is it for?

Horno Building – Online Bootcamp bundles essential “100 to 200-level” topics from the Adobeisnotsoftware Adobe Curriculum into a format that is suitable for bakers, building professionals and DIYers, and is also a great introduction to adobe construction and natural plasters covered in more depth in Adobeisnotsoftware’s other classes.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Learn about safety in earthen construction.
  • Learn about how earth has been used as a building material worldwide and in CA.
  • Learn about the environmental and health benefits of earth as a building material.
  • Learn how to locate, identify and test suitable soils for use in adobe construction.
  • Learn about clay minerals and aggregates and their role in the adobe mix.
  • Learn the proportions of a good adobe mix for your area and how to amend your soil if a suitable mix is not naturally present.
  • Learn how California regulations apply to wood-fired earthen ovens.
  • Learn correct horno sizing.
  • Learn about the necessity and types of foundations used for earthen ovens.
  • Learn the basics of adobe block laying.
  • Learn about the benefits and types of hearth insulation.
  • Learn about different types of oven floors.
  • Learn how to install a brick oven floor.
  • Learn different methods for forming the oven dome.
  • Learn how to create a sand form for the oven dome.
  • Learn how to install the different layers of the oven dome – including the thermal layer, insulation layer, and finish layers.
  • Learn how to finish your oven with different plaster types.
  • Learn to properly fire and maintain your oven for low temperature and high temperature baking.
  • Learn about cooking in earthen ovens.

Instruction Type

This is a virtual class held using an online classroom platform hosting reading materials, podcasts, videos, field project assignments and a discussion board. Instruction is asynchronous with all six content modules accessible to you when you register. Students can participate whenever their schedule allows.


Kurt Gardella

Kurt Gardella specializes in online and field-based adobe construction education. He holds a Certificate in Adobe Construction from Northern New Mexico College (Quentin Wilson) and is also certified as a Specialist for Building with Earth (Registration #01-208-0810) by the Dachverband Lehm (German Association for Building with Earth) and the Handwerkskammer Ulm (Ulm Chamber of Trades and Crafts). Kurt also holds an Adobe Proficiency Certification from The Earthbuilders’ Guild. In addition to Adobe is not Software, Kurt also teaches classes for Adobe in Action and Santa Fe Community College.

Evaluation Methods

20-question written exam
Remote evaluation of earthen oven field projects


This course  includes topics from the following Adobeisnotsoftware Curriculum modules:

  • 100 Intro to Earth as a Building Material (full module)
  • 120 Soil Selection and Testing (full module)
  • 122 Making Adobe Blocks (full module)
  • 124 Water Resistance Admixtures for Earthen Building Materials (aka Stabilization) (full module)
  • 180 Intro to Earthen Building Codes and California (select topics)
  • 230 Introduction to Foundations for Earthen Buildings – Concepts (select topics)
  • 232 Introduction to Earthen Wall Building – Concepts (select topics)
  • 242 Horno Building (full module)
  • 250 Introduction to Plasters for Earthen Buildings – Concepts (select topics)

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