New development. A windstorm and subsequent rain gave us something to think about last week. The wind blew off the plastic sheeting used to cover our stored bricks and left a row exposed to the rain for a short time (possibly ten minutes). We could see that the bricks that were left vulnerable had sustained some erosion, not a terribly serious amount, but enough to think about using less sand. Our problem has been that without the sand, the higher clay content causes cracking as the bricks dry. Solution: Straw.
We've been asked, especially by those with local knowledge, why we aren't using straw. We weren't against using it, just thought we could get away without it, and in many cases you probably can. But it seems our clay is constituted in such a way that the straw is quite necessary for moisture absorption in the bricks, and to speed up the drying process which leads to less cracking. Some contend that straw also binds the brick together thus making it stronger. Well without trying to weigh in on the debate, I'd just say that we've been able to use more clay, and are now less worried about erosion from potentially exposed bricks. Also very little cracking.
I wrote earlier about how Rocky had been inspired by his grandmother's biscochito baking to coat our forms in an effort to make the bricks slide out with less effort. We've been inspired once again. This time by our friend Kip (pictured below) who had designed some adobe forms with aluminum flashing on the interior. Working with these forms is like cooking with a Teflon coated pan. Plus there's no need to spend the extra time to wash and re-coat the form with blow sand after each use. Needless to say we immediately went out to purchase some flashing so that our own forms might perform as well as Kip's.