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Showing posts from July 8, 2012

Make Clay while the Sun Shines

The clay here at Grymsdyke is mixed with pieces of flint, which by itself is a beautiful stone, but the large pieces need to be removed in order to make bricks. The process we used for the workshop, hand-crumbling the clay into coin-sized pieces and picking it over for stones, was our only option, given that we had very little time and many eager people.

This time, since I have more time but am alone, I am trying a different process, which involves
1 soaking the clay overnight
2 mixing it into a slurry with a hand-held power mixer
3 straining it
4 spreading it out to dry

Number 4 is the most problematic so far, given the propensity of English weather to pour rain unexpectedly. I'm going to look into other options, such as making a batch of powdered dry clay to mix in.

Warsaw, saw war

While walking around the midtown with an employee from the Historical Museum of Warsaw, he points to a brick. "Warsaw, saw war" he jokes. I start to notice just how ubiquitous the signs of struggle are- the dented metal, chipped stone, and bullet-eaten brick of the Hala Mirowska are proof. This market hall is one of the few public buildings in Warsaw that has survived both world wars.

The multiple lives of bricks

On the construction site of the Museum of Warsaw Praga, the bricks taken out of the wall of the tenement house are carefully stacked in order to be replaced in the new wall of the museum. In the centre there is a pile of huge bricks, which, if I understood correctly, were once part of a castle. 


The correct term for digging clay from the ground is 'winning' the clay. The Grymsdyke clay is mostly caramel-coloured, but with veins of white and red.

At the end, the gardener said that 'you've probably got about nine tons there'. More than enough for what I'll be doing!

Brickworks near Warsaw

When I first searched for "brickworks" near Warsaw on Google, I thought finding an operational factory would be easy. 

It turned out that many of the places I had marked on my map were abandoned. Many were graveyards for thousands of broken and whole bricks, not even deemed worthy of sorting and sale. 

When I did find a working factory, it might as well have been abandoned. One sole worker shoveled coal to load the kiln. The machinery lay dormant, and only the green bricks on the drying racks gave any hint of ongoing production.

Meet Grymsdyke Farm

This is Buckinghamshire, UK. This landscape is:
...mostly rainy, but with a hint of sun

...mostly green, but with a hint of red

...mostly deserted

but truly alive