Sunday, February 23, 2014

Starting Over...Again

For a while now, I've felt a bit burnt out on the midcentury house - I think I made the design, with multiple opening panels, a bit too complicated for my skill level. I just can't seem to get it right, and it's much more frustrating than I've let on.

So, I'm going to put it aside for now. I may come back to it in a few months, or a few years. But for now, I've begun another project (one I'm sure I can handle).

Here's a clue (and it's NOT a Tudor/medieval building!):

Monday, February 3, 2014

How I Brick a Chimney

1. Make egg-carton bricks for an earlier, and MUCH smaller project - the back of the fireplace in a room box. Realize I have neither the patience nor the coordination to make thousands of tiny identical bricks for a bigger project.

2. Decide against using individual bricks for the same reason no one ever builds an unreinforced masonry chimney in California anymore - one sharp shock and the whole thing could collapse. Build a chimney out of plywood and glue it to the house.

3. Order brick slips (Richard Stacey's, of course) from the UK.

4. Attempt to use broken brick pieces and scraps of (real) slate (saved from making the downstairs fireplace) to make a clinker-brick base. Hate it. Scrape it all off with a putty knife before the glue has a chance to dry (but save the broken brick pieces in case I ever decide to try it again).

5. Start gluing brick slips in place the regular way. 

6. Run out of brick slips two-thirds of the way through (I just HAD to use so many of them on the screened-in porch). Order new ones.

7. Open package of new brick slips and realize that, since they're from a different batch, they're a different shade of red. ARRGH!

8. Think "the hell with it" and start gluing them on anyway.

9. Quickly realize the different bricks create a subtle and believable "repair line" - such as might be seen on a 94-year-old, unreinforced chimney after earthquake damage necessitates some work on the house. (If this house existed in real life, it would have been rattled by earthquakes in 1925, 1933, 1948, 1971, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2010...and I'm not even counting smaller quakes, which happen all the time. I have yet to live in a house built prior to 1970 that showed no evidence of earthquake damage.) Instantly love it.

10. Finish gluing on the brick slips. Allow to dry.

11. Seal brick slips with a 1:1 mix of glue and water. Allow to dry.

12. Break out the mortar and a very old, very tiny trowel that inexplicably turned up in my late grandfather's tool kit. (Pity I'll never know where he got this thing - it's awesome.)

13. Clean off excess mortar throughout the mortaring process. Continually acknowledge that I need more practice at this, since I'm not very good at it!

Next up: adding the siding. It's about time I made some progress on the exterior.