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Name: Michael
Status: educator
Grade: 4-5
Location: NC 
Country: N/A
Date: 7/17/2005


Question:
I live in North Carolina where there is a lot of clay dirt. I want to build a waist high mud brick retaining wall with my students this year. What materials will I need to begin and what raw materials will I need to mix together?


Replies:
I had a friend in the Peace Corps who went to South America. He helped make huts from homemade bricks, or, more like blocks.

Reflecting now, I think you have to know your clay. The peace corps guy said, he used a mold ( basically a box) and clay plus straw. I would think the straw would be a filler and something to bind the clay. Now, the part that has me thinking, and kicking it to you , is the drying. Will the clay dry so it can be removed from the mold? The option is heating as in an oven. That is were the mix comes in, if you do go to mechanical drying, can substances be added to induce the dry hardening.

In grade school we made salt and flour maps, the mixture would harden like a rock, but it had to be the right mix. My friend got it wrong and it was like a watery pizza, sliding off the cardboard. Hope this helps, but you see a lot depends on your materials.

Once you have the solid bricks, you need a similar material for what would be the mortar. Probably more of the same perhaps in a more liquid state for workability. More thinking, I recall seeing globs that made the adobe style wall, no mortar, the blob, rough bread shaped, stacked to dry.

James Przewoznik



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