Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dry Sorting

Last summer I believed that the clay and flint of the soil were best friends and could only be separated with great effort. And it is true, as long as the clay is damp or wet.

Now, I realize that there is a way to easily detach the two materials. The clay just has to be dry, and then any blow with a hammer will split the clod exactly where the rocks are. There is still a good deal of work involved, because the rocks have to be picked out by hand, but it is work that can be done whenever I have a few minutes to spare. Instead of having to invest a few hours at a time to process the wet clay, I can pick over a couple handfuls when I feel like it.

Luckily the flint pieces are white, because the clods of dry clay and the stones are about the same hardness when touched. I can tell the difference by the colour and sometimes the geometry- the flint pieces have more thin edges.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Tools

A good friend of mine gave me a mixing trowel and a jointing trowel for my birthday last year, and I was eager to try them out. I put together some of the scaffolding for the roof to do some tests. 

It is interesting to find out how techniques are embedded in the shape of a tool. For instance, the thin jointing trowel has a fixed width of 1/8", written on the blade. I suppose masons would have a whole collection of different widths for different projects. It is not so intuitive to use on the variable-width joints I am dealing with. As well, it has a long, straight blade that does not accommodate the curves. I ended up using only the tip for most of the joints. Still, I found that it was useful because it is long and thin. I can use it to pack the mortar into the gaps.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Return to Grymsdyke

I am once more at Grymsdyke Farm for the summer. The two walls are still standing. They have survived what has been deemed a particularly nasty winter, with all of its frost, wind, rain, and even snow. Now, it is warming up. The field has been mown, so the walls are clearly visible from the house. The horses are back. I'm looking forward to continuing the testing and construction.