August 30, 2009

Brickology Part 1

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009


Today I started walking the immediate neighborhood taking photos of bricks on old buildings. I started making miniature bricks last night. My new dollhouse has a raised hearth fireplace, wood storage underneath, built in spice cupboard to the side. I have not gotten as much of the construction done as I hoped as I had to design the fireplace. It is not looking promising to make a 30 day completion goal but I am having a lot of fun so I don't really mind. There is a Seattle dollhouse show in March.

My roof tile method is what I will be using to make the brickwork on the hearth. This blog is a bit of a teaser in that it only contains reference photos of bricks that I took at lunch today. The how-to blog is coming later when I have the hearth finished and ready to photograph.

I am going out on a limb here and state my opinion that egg cartons do not make realistic looking bricks on dollhouses. The closest it comes to reality is where the hard kiln fired face of a brick has broken off and the soft clay inside is eroding away. Mushy rounded over edges on paperclay bricks don't work either.

Having stated that strong opinion I will soften it by saying that not all dollhouses have to be photo realistic looking, they are fun and they are a form of folk art where photo realism is not the point. The dollhouses I create are a blend of folk art and realism. So you keep right on doing what you love best because it is good and great. But if you want to try for something closer to the real thing then go and look at the real thing, look very closely, touch it, feel the surfaces, absorb the experience into your memory banks. Use a camera and record the experience to take back to your studio. Pick up a fallen brick from an old wall to use as a door stop or to weigh down something being glued together.

The photos that follow are the record I made of a late 1800's structure in the neighborhood that was built with local, hand made bricks. The color variations come from the position the bricks were stacked in the kiln. The smoke and heat creates a kind of glaze. Some of the striped color variations are from where an adjacent brick was stacked thus protecting the brick from the heat in that spot. Heat also creates cracks and spalling. Because the clay is hand packed into the molds there are often fissures in the layers of clay. The clay itself has grit and other inclusions in it and there are variation in color from the earth. When the mold is removed from the wet clay it can distort the shape of the brick. Moving the newly formed clay to the drying shelf can distort it and the person moving it might leave visible prints of their fingers. while the bricks are of similar size and the clay material is dug from the same pit there are absolutely no identical bricks unlike modern manufactured brick where they all look the same.

These brick photos do create a kind of abstract art where you look at things in detail. Don thinks I should do a gallery show of the images at a local coffee shop and sell people the prints. Who knows maybe I will give it a try sometime. I will need to shoot at the golden hour of intense sunlight from the west when there are long shadows.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009
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