Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Victorian Building Blocks


One summer, my brother-in-law Peter pointed out a little paw print imbedded on the surface of a brick of the back wall of our house. This led to the discovery of numerous “imperfections” in the bricks and the realization that no two bricks on our house were the same. The bricks of the Dusty Victorian look very weathered with their uneven colouring, pockmarks, scratches, waves and ripples, but what is most interesting are the prints left by the workers and animals of the time.

In the nineteenth century brick making was an occupation at the absolute bottom of the ladder, associated with the most degrading poverty. The work was low skilled and seasonal. I think the bricks on our house is a testimonial of that hardship.

Look closely.


Raccoon or cat prints.


Testing with his finger to see if the clay was ready.

Grabbing the brick, thinking it was firm enough to handle. Four finger tips, from the index to the pinky. The thumb print is probably on the inside of the wall.

Don't know what these numbers mean. They are quite high up on the wall.

These angled prints were numerous all over. I think they are prints of other bricks from stacking.

I'm not sure what that print is, but if I let my imagination run free, I would say that this brick was made in autumn and a leaf fell on wet clay. The worker grabbed the stem, leaving behind
his clumsy prints.

This is a relatively recent print of the boy who lived here before us. Love it.

More on Victorian brick making can be found at this site.

7 comments:

Ashley said...

How neat! Most of our bricks appear smooth and boring, but we do have numbers or something similar to your higher up the wall at the front of the house. They're half hidden by a gutter, so we don't know exactly what's written there.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Ashley and welcome. I see that you have taken on quite the home project. Looking forward to catching up to your blog. All my best to you.
Anyes
XX

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Such an interesting posting, Anyes! I think it's great that your house is made of such personalized elements, and I even wonder if the bricks were made on site.

The color of your bricks would reflect the clay makeup of your region of the country, just as the red bricks of Monticello indicate the red clay of Virginia.

A friend here in Florida grew up in a house that had tile floors that were made on site as the house was built. A Cuban crew came to make the tiles, but didn't bring their own molds. And that's how the floor tiles of my friend's house came to be molded from cake tins!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Thank you Mark,
I understand that yellow brick takes on this colouring because of a high percentage of lime in its composition. Our local limestone quarry (still in operation) would have most probably supplied the materials for brick making, which would explain the high percentage of yellow brick homes in our area. I should have mentioned this in my post.
Cake tins to mold floor tiles - Wow!. Talk about resourcefulness, hand-made and unique home features - Love it!
Anyes
XX

Richard Cottrell said...

I have always said that old houses will tell a story if you look and listen long enough. Neat finds, Richard from My Old Historic House.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Thank you Richard,
So true. Always a pleasure.
Anyes
XX

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

That is so cool! I love the paw prints! I would love to discover something of that nature in our house.

-Pam