Friday, August 24, 2012

Brick Brushing

To maximize cohesion between the mortar and the brick, there are two measures I take: brushing off the sand with a wire brush, and  soaking the brick in water. 

The brushing also removes the darker sand so the orange of the clay shows through.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Life and Death of Formwork

Formwork is the unfortunate, essential-yet-absent material that can 'make or break' the concrete pour (or the budget, for many architectural projects!) I'm happy to say that my formwork did its job well- but sadly, it is now waste.

I chose to make the frame out of MDF, knowing that it would not be salvageable after use. The inside is thin plywood, in order to  follow the curvature.

There are, of course, different kinds of formwork that are reusable, but for a small, unique slab like this, its life ends with removal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Concrete pour

After many weeks of working with clay, today I was working with concrete. It's funny, even during the most stressful times of brick-making, I never felt like I needed to be a machine- it was always distinctly human work, and the laborious tasks, such as sorting clay, also had a meditative side. Concrete is a different story. Perhaps due to the shorter working time, and the irreversible nature of the process, I was acutely aware of the limits of my body and the inefficiencies of working by hand.
Luckily I had help, in the form of Paul the gardener. 

We marched the formwork across the field. For other, heavier, things, we used the lawn tractor with the trailer. 

In order to use less concrete, we put a base layer of flint (there was lots lying around, of course). It worked well to space the wire mesh, too.

We stretched a chain of extension cords across the field in order to get the concrete mixer going. We also had very long hose, but it didn't stretch quite as far as the slab. We left the hose running for the entire afternoon, which I felt very guilty about.

Moonrise over the field after the rain.

Just as we finished, there was a downpour. 

Rain-hammered concrete: a new kind of finish?

The surface is very rough, but eventually it will be tiled over.