Monday, 20 April 2015

Mud, Bricks & Water

Sunday’s workshop at Llanymynech was a first experiment in miniature canal restoration. It was the perfect location for brick engineering, right outside the red-brick Hoffman lime kiln. I provided around 600 home-made miniature bricks (1:12 scale), some flour-and-water mortar, and clay for the canal bed. 
It’s interesting that the most authentic material doesn’t always look right or have the right material properties on a small scale. In this case the miniature bricks I made were red plaster cast in a silicone mould. Not as authentic as terracotta bricks fired in a miniature kiln, but very satisfying and with the advantage that the plaster sucked the mortar in quickly, making it easy to quickly bond and construct with the bricks.
I provided just three key materials for the model, but the heritage site at Llanymynech provided plenty of exciting matter to incorporate, and the young people and adults who participated made good use of it. One aqueduct was created using a piece of iron from the site, mimicking the way some of the original bridges on the canal had brick supports with iron troughs to carry the water.
It doesn’t get much more authentic than that piece of iron! Found on the canal-side and temporarily adopted in our miniature restoration.
Another innovation made by the young people was to spread the flour mortar on to the baseboard and sprinkle gravel and grass on to it to create the towpath.
I especially liked the fact that the bridges were all given numbers, like the real ones.
The model proved authentic in its capacity to leak when tested at the end of the day, but the process of making it, as a combined effort of freelance miniature engineering, was a real success.

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