A slightly belated post about the amazing Brickmaking Workshop that I was part of on the Roseland at the end of September 2018. Rosanna Martin who runs the ceramic workshop, Brickworks in Penryn was inspired by childhood memories of the chimney and a love of clay, to run a two day workshop on the foreshore of the Fal estuary on the site of a brickworks that existed between 1891 and 1907. The original brickworks used clay dredged up from the river, fired bricks in two huge beehive scrivener kilns and transported the finished product down river by barge to Truro. Evidence of the old brickworks is marked today by the remaining chimney, a wonderful feat of brick engineering itself, built to create a really good updraft for the kiln, enabling it to reach the required temperature and carry away fumes from the site.
In the Brickworks newsletter Rosanna writes:
On 21st and 22nd September we set up camp at the site of the original Brickworks on the foreshore of the Fal estuary in an attempt to learn and recreate the processes used in one of the oldest ways humans have worked with clay. A brickworks existed on the site between 1891 and 1907, using clay dredged up from the river mixed with sand, soil, mud and other combustible materials to make bricks that were then sent down river on barges to build houses in local towns. Waste clay from nearby china clay works had been washed down river and silted up the creeks providing an abundant resource that is still discoverable today.
We recreated each stage of the brickmaking process; gathering clay from the river banks, mixing it with sand and straw, forming it in wooden moulds and leaving them out to wind, air and rain dry before being added to the top of the brick clamp kiln. We kept the kiln fired up overnight and managed to get some of the bricks to temperature. Over 60 people attended the workshops over the two days creating a collaborative and joyous atmosphere, despite some very wet weather on day two. As one participant noted ‘the whole experience resonated on a very deep level; the kiln was an incredible focal point. On a sensory level, the experience was wonderful; the mist-muted sounds, the damp and wood smoke, the feel of the wet clay and dry straw.
The event was made possible through support from Groundwork, The Parnall Foundation, and tireless work from Katie Bunnell and my mum and dad. We are hoping to repeat it in some form next year so look out for updates if you missed it this time and would like to be a part of it next time”
Thank you Rose!