September 1, 2009

Brickology Part 2

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009
This Brickology tutorial segment is about making the cutting boards you will be needing. While each brick will be unique there still has to be a way to control the size of the brick.

Knowing what era your dollhouse was built or remodeled is the first step in making bricks for the project. I can't tell you what size to make your bricks because depending on the date, the geographical location and sometimes the architect the standard sizes of bricks varied. During Queen Elizabeth's rein the size standard was different than the size during the rein of Charles I. These sizes were controlled by laws. Early American bricks were influenced by the British standards as the brick makers were immigrants. The modern standards in place now are created by builders associations. Tax rates were also an influence, structures might have had a per brick tax, that meant the bricks got larger so the tax would be smaller. While that brick tax was going on in England there were some really large brick sizes used on new buildings.

So do your research and find out what size the real life brick would be and then divide 12 if you are making a 1:12 project. Don't worry about rounding up to the nearest fraction, the decimal answer is better to use. The next step is to cut a brick to that dimension and find out how much it is going to shrink. Yes these clay materials always shrink so you must increase the size of your miniature brick pattern to compensate. You will only find out by experimenting what dimension you have to start with. As there is more material lengthwise in a brick it will shrink more in that dimension. Next use a program that will allow you to duplicate lines across the printed page. That creates your cutting guide.

You will need to make layout pages for the lengthwise bricks and if you want to also make them for the header courses of bricks. Header courses are where the length of the brick goes back into the wall instead of across the face. This provides greater strength for walls. So this is yet another wall detail you need to decide on, are you going to have header courses and how often will they occur? Some brick wall patterns have a lot of headers in them. There might also be decorative soldier courses. You will also see these long edges of the brick exposed in arches over windows and doors. Just running bricks lengthwise over these opening is not architecturally correct. Those are load bearing areas on a real building, the wall above the door or window would collapse into the opening if they are not properly engineered. Don't forget window sills, they too have a special pattern. Search out images and web pages that show how to build brick walls. Look closely at photos of real brick buildings from the era of your dollhouse.

Because this is a small batch method of brick making due to the width of the pasta roller machine I have made a number of cutting boards. My boards are made using some leftover plywood, I could have used pieces of melamine coated bookshelves. I adhere my guide lines to the board with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive. Next I put on the top surface also using the spray adhesive. That surface is a clear, flexible plastic cutting mat. You can find these at grocery stores or in the kitchen section of a department store, hardware store or kitchen store. I got the big ones and cut them in half. They came two per pack so that made 3 project boards. Only 3 because you will also need a piece of cutting mat that is not attached to a board. I will show you why you need it in another segment of the tutorial.

If you buy two packs you can create more cutting boards with a different grid size on the backside of the brick cutting board. I have a roof tile grid on one side of my board and a brick grid on the other side. I also have a long brick grid on one side and the header brick size on the other side of the board.

The cutting board is also the drying board.
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