I have bricklayers and masons in my bloodline – from both sides of the aisle. In cutting and laying the firebrick, mixing and compressing the ceramic cement I felt that connection with my Dad. He shared little snippets of working with his uncle. I can tell still after all these years he is very proud of him. Even today he’ll talk about Orville and all he learned from him.
Long before my parents were were born, my Dad’s father and my Mom’s Grandfather (Pa) built the house my mom would grow up in. Funny how life works, huh?
I imagine too there were small exchanges in the way men converse; small off-hand remarks that begin larger conversations. Likely he had that with Pa, in the beginning stages of wooing my mom, and much later when they married, bought and fixed up the old house I grew up in. Or at least I like thinking it happened that way.
There are different types of brick. Even with house building there are probably quite a few. Refractory bricks are used for things like pizza ovens, fireplaces, bricks around your furnaces and for this instance, very high fire kilns. Since I really felt I’d be making primarily functional ware and with as much sustainable firing methods as possible, I opted for firebrick aimed at the range of Cone 6-8 but with the flexibility of reaching Cone 10. Soft bricks were advantage for the best insulation. And though soft brick cost more, they are easier to cut (big advantage there!) and easier to replace and patch in the system my Dad designed. Truly, this project was all in his mind with knowledge about pressure I would need an engineering degree to understand. Luckily, I have one in-house.
The soft bricks are about 1/3 the weight of a typical clay bricks. Its advantage is in its portability. Since this is a kiln that will be wheeled out of an enclosure, that weight savings is awesome for me.
The mortar is lain in the form of tape rather than a fresh, wet mixture that truly could be disassembled easily if I ever needed to do that.
Up next — Building the Chimney