Monday, March 10, 2008

Not JUST another brick in the wall...

Wow! What a weekend... and another step in the process to our mudbrick house!
We travelled up to Dargaville on Saturday with the intention of getting more "hands on" and experience the mudbrick process first hand.
Saturday afternoon we went out to visit Craig and Kimberly (my cousin) at their new house site and spent a few hours out there chewing the fat and catching up. They took us to a neighbouring site to see the start of another mudbrick build.
I went over and picked up one of the bricks to get a feel for them.... phoarrr! Not at all lightweight!! Craig reckoned they were around 13kgs each when wet.... Lawsie mercy!
Tommy was very excited to see the site as a work in progress and buzzed about asking questions, poking & prodding and picking up bricks. As Tommy quizzed Craig and they chattered away like a couple of wee boys in the sandpit Kimberly said to me... "Pssst... Hey cuz... you can almost see Tommy drooling!" ... no almost about it... he was!! And the glorious sunset Kimberly had organised for us went (almost) unnoticed... All that night I dreamt about lugging bricks about in rather surreal circumstances.... not unlike what I imagine the building of the ancient egyptian pyramids to have been with labourers (including me!!) racing about carrying bricks into position like busy ants, whips cracking, the sun beating down, loinclothes ... I'm sure you get the picture... I woke up Sunday morning feeling quite spent already and with a smidgin of concern about what I was letting myself in for....
We had gone up north with the intention of working on one of Craig's projects... a mudbrick building for a local paper making business (incidentally owned by my Father's cousin) so we packed up on Sunday morning and set off. We stopped in town to get some stuff for lunch and some gloves then drove out through Te Kopuru to the building site.
The rest of the day was like making mud pies and thankfully not at all like my dream! The pace was very relaxed. Although there was heavy work involved it was at a sedate pace, there was no rushing about, no whips cracking and (praise be) no loinclothes!! Most of the time it was more like playing at mudpies than hard graft, much to my relief.
The building process was up to the 13th course. Craig and Boots set out the corners and ran their string lines, with Tommy hard on their heels watching and quizzing them... Then we started helping with laying the next course of bricks. In order to do this we clambered up on scaffolding laid out a bed of mud mortar and after placing the bricks mortar was slopped between them puushing it int the gaps with our fingers smoothing the excess off the face of the wall. Being the shortest I found it a bit awkward trying to place the bricks properly into the mortar bed so in the finish we settled into a routine with Tommy and Craig placing the bricks while Boots or I shovelled mortar up to them and brought more bricks. Boots was also buzzing about mixing more mortar and loading more bricks into the water drums. There were no set roles and really everyone worked together under Craigs direction.

It all just kind of happened with someone doing what needed doing as it needed doing... really quite an organic process!

We left at about 4 in the afternoon to make the trip back to Auckland with Craig telling us our apprenticeship was served...

"That's all there is to it!" he told us, grinning.

Tommy was buzzing with excitement about how easy all it was. It had been one thing to know, in theory, how it was all worked but having experienced part of the process first hand has made it so much more real and certainly more achievable. I had a bit of an afterglow, that lovely tired feeling you get after a day's physical work to achieve something. We contributed in a small way to something that will become a fantastic building but more importantly we have had an experience that really proves to us that our dream of building our own mudbrick house is not a dream at all, it's an entirely acheiveable goal.

As if that wasn't enough, on our trip back we had another experience that reminded us why we want to move off the mainland....

1 comment:

Bidelia said...

Great work.