Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Digging for Gold

After all the recent floods, frosts and snow, part of the bank to the brook that runs through our garden fell away. Devoid of vegetation it's plain to see a narrow seam of red coloured clay.

Not surprising really. We live in an area of glacial deposit, what geologists call ' Thrussington till', a red marly matrix with a suite of carboniferous and triassic erratics, the red brick houses are testament to that and just up the road a little there is an old clay pit. Now a lake, it was the site of a brick works and bricks were made commercially throughout the 1800's. Floor tiles with WWS Thrussington stamped on them sometimes turn up in the garden.
Our house dates back to at least 1790 and is built of beautiful handmade red bricks, probably the local clay on which it stands. The bricks were made in simple wooden moulds, dried in the sun, then fired in clamps. During our stay here we have found bricks with grass and leaf imprints and one with a perfectly formed dogs footprint, which we have saved.

The bricks vary from dark orange through to dark red and some which must have been in the hottest part of the fire have vitrified to a glossy plum colour in parts.

I've dug a bucket full of the red/ochre coloured clay,  made it into slurry and sieved out the debris. It is very pure with very few stones or vegetation and in it's liquid state a sort of ginger colour.

Bisque fired the slip appears a beautiful dark orange. A little like some of the bricks from the house, so we are hopeful that wood fired at cone ten it might be a little more interesting. Experiments are underway and at the end of March when I fire the kiln, all will be revealed.

Watch this space.

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