[Clayart] Cow paddys

dannon at ccrtc.com dannon at ccrtc.com
Fri Apr 8 20:53:25 UTC 2022

Ah, brick making.

The central/original part of my house was built in 1880's sometime.  The 
whole central
part is made from home made brick, made right here on the place.  The 
basement walls and
the original outside walls are all double courses of brick, with an 
airspace in the center.
The walls are about 20 inches thick.  The bricks were made from the 
dirt, not cleaned much
I expect. Whatever kiln they used (a beehive, perhaps, dunno) was across 
the ravine from
the house, on the cleared side of the hill.  I happened to come across a 
stray homemade brick a
couple months ago when I was out walking.  The clay is coarse, with some 
small stones
and voids. This particular brick was broken on one end, and the other 
end not squared.
Expect it was tossed out as a second or something. Must have lain there 
ever since, being
tossed about by the freeze/thaw cycle. All the basement brick are matt 
finish. Fired with either wood
or coal. I expect wood, because that was what was available. I've only 
seen the basement brick.
The exterior brick walls are covered with stucco, inside with plaster, 
so I've not seen them.
Apparently the brick was made as time permitted, stored up until there 
was enough.  Soil here
is mostly clay, with layers of shale. I've cleaned and fired some, in 
the past. It's a low
fire clay, matures at about 1800 F. A beautiful orange/pink at that 
temp. Fired higher it turns a
truly ugly greenish brown, and melts well before cone 9.

The soil here is apparently perfect for brick, as is. (there is a 
factory in the little town about 10 miles from here. I visited it a few 
years back, and
they showed me the whole thing. A train-kiln, fired with sawdust sprayed 
in at ports. The
brick traveling along- cold start/cold finish. They fire to 1850 F). The 
factory is where
it is because that is where they "mine" the soil. Full of shale and 
clay, slightly sifted,
barely dampened, pressed into the molds, then placed on the cars, fired 
as is.


Dannon Rhudy

On 2022-04-08 12:08 am, Terry Lazaroff wrote:
> Yes, that was a good movie.    Thanks for the update, Vince.
> Terry
> Sent from my iPad
>> On Apr 7, 2022, at 9:09 PM, vpitelka at dtccom.net wrote:
>> Hi Terry -
>> You mention "The Last Brickmaker."  Normally I avoid Hallmark movies 
>> like the plague, but my wife and I watched this one because it was one 
>> of Sidney Poitier's last films - the character he played was 
>> supposedly the last brickmaker doing it in a traditional way.  I do 
>> not remember the details, but I think the coal dust was added to 
>> provide a little porosity so that the bricks would fire more evenly 
>> and would have greater insulating value.  The movie is really worth 
>> seeing, because it shows the whole process from molding the bricks 
>> from clay.  He fires the bricks in a traditional "clamp," which is 
>> just a huge rectangular pile of bricks with fireboxes around the base 
>> and flue channels passing through the pile.  There's no conventional 
>> kiln.  They build fires in the fireboxes and the heat circulates 
>> through the flues, heating the bricks.  The flues exit in the top of 
>> the pile, and the movie shows them regulating the heat by partially 
>> covering the flue exits.  When the firing is done, the bricks along 
>> the fireboxes and flue channels would be melted, and the bricks along 
>> the outside of the kiln would be unfired.  Between those extremes 
>> there would be bricks ranging from pinkish soft-fired, classic 
>> brick-red, to fairly dark red-brown, depending on how hot they got.  
>> It's a fascinating process.
>> - Vince
>> Vince Pitelka
>> Potter, Writer, Teacher
>> Chapel Hill, NC
>> vpitelka at dtccom.net
>> www.vincepitelka.com
>> https://chathamartistsguild.org/
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of 
>> Terry Lazaroff
>> Sent: Thursday, April 7, 2022 3:52 PM
>> To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum 
>> <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
>> Subject: Re: [Clayart] Cow paddys
>> Hi all
>> I remember watching the Last Brick Maker and he used coal mixed into 
>> his bricks so the would fire themselves in similar fashion.
>> Terry getting ready for the 2022 1001Pots summer sale in Val David, 
>> Quebec.  8 July to 21 August.
>> Sent from my iPad
>>> On Apr 7, 2022, at 3:03 PM, Tig Dupré <tigdupre at msn.com> wrote:
>>> When I was in college at the University of Florida, Clayton Bailey 
>>> came for a workshop.  He made "nose cups" and "blooper heads."  He 
>>> cracked jokes and made wonderful pots.
>>> One of the things he told us was his use of "horse clay," the mixing 
>>> of dried horse dung in his clay body.  Clayton claimed that this 
>>> allowed him to use less fuel in firing, because once the firing got 
>>> up to the ignition point of the horse dung, the pot would fire 
>>> itself.  I never tested this theory, not having access to a lot of 
>>> horse dung, but it did sound somewhat on the fantasy side of clay 
>>> production.
>>> I greatly enjoyed his workshop!
>>> Tig Dupre
>>> in Port Orchard, WA
>>> ________________________________
>>> Kurt Wild got very excited to use dung as a heat source for low temp
>>> pottery.  Black ware and such was fired for years using dung...but,
>>> "DRY DUNG"  ....
>>> People have the perception that cow dung is wet, sloppy, icky stuff.
>>> And, it is.  But dung found in dry climates, esp cattle and goat 
>>> sheep
>>> dung is like a grass paddy.
>>> Most of what goes in a cow is grasses.  What comes out is used up 
>>> grass.
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