Construction 2: Homemade miniature bricks

05/10/09 | ۩ |


The pictures in this post are taken from several "batches", but I combined them in a natural sequence to show you step by step the making of my bricks.
The raw material is DAS clay in terra cotta color. Besides this, I used some basic tools like a square, a cutter, a slice, a wooden board with two thin runners (about 0,2 inch), a rolling pin (in fact a segment of an old sun umbrella pole), a hand sprayer, sandpaper and a metal file.


I cut the clay into slices and I place it on the board. Then I press it with my fingers to fill all the surface between the runners. Now I use the wet rolling pin to extend the material until the surface is plain and thin enough.


The next operation is the carving of the surface using the slice. I cut horizontally the clay all along the board into strips. Is important to keep the slice perpendicular to the board an moving it downwards and not sideways because that would alter the shape of the bricks.



After making the horizontal cutting I proceed with the vertical ones, in stripes of 0,30/0,40 inch, depending of my needs.
Before the material is totally dry I apply a light pressure on the surface to limit the smoothness caused by the slice during the cutting.


After a few hours (or in case of high moisture, the day after) I proceed to a further polishing of the surface with sandpaper. Then I check again the lines between bricks with the slice and finally I can cut my bricks.
In this stage I try to detach the bricks in slices of at least 4 pieces, as you can see in the picture below.
That's because the little bricks still need to be polished with a file to be finished. On a board like this you can produce more than 1300 bricks at a time, so you can see the advantage (in terms of time) to polish them in groups of 4 instead of one-by-one.


The finished bricks will not be all perfectly identical. Some will be shorter, some will be thicker... Fortunately the DAS is an easy material to work on even when it's dry and you can modify every piece before placing it.
This feature will be very useful to build walls and vaults, where bricks does not come all in the same shape and need to be modified depending on their position... just like in a mosaic!





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