Brick Maker Trade
There are different early American trades that people were involved in and these include the brick maker, printer and binder, silversmith, shoemaker, wigmaker among others. In these early American trades, both men and women and also children participated.
In the brick maker trade, the people were involved in making moulds, drying the bricks, and fining them. These bricks were used for construction and repair. This was usually done by laborers who were not skilled and slaves. In this brick making trade, all people that is men, women and children took part in the trade.
Brick making trade is an important trade in the Williamsburg history, for instance, today there is a colonial Williamsburg brick yard which has grown to the extend that people visit to see the making process of the bricks. Though it was an early American trade, brick making is still ongoing today. It is a busy form of trade whereby the workers are expected to be busy even for the coming years.
Brick making is a process that involved shoving clay into a treading pit, then water was added to the clay and stomped with the brick maker’s feet. Children also enjoyed the stomping with their bare feet. The clay was then placed in a molding table and shaped in a wooden mold. The mold was then dried in the sand and then in a drying shed. After that, the bricks were fired in the kiln for a period of six days. Since it was a slave trade, the brick makers spend the entire time on the site and they had very little sleep. After the firing bricks were allowed to cool and the bricks removed ready for construction and repair.
In this brick making trade, both women and men took part. However they took part in different ways. The work that the women performed in the process of brick making, construction and repair was different from that of the men. Though they were different, these women’s lives had constraints that made it difficult to exercise their freedom. This was so because they were involved in heavy work that could have even made it difficult to differentiate the standards of one person from the other.
In most cases, women were in connection with others mainly through other people being dependent on them. Therefore they had no other choices but to work so as to be the care givers and providers. Therefore, they had many constraints in their lives and thereby could not exercise their liberty and freedom.
During the brick making trade, though women were placed as supervisors, they also did some heavy work. For instance, it was the women who shoved the clay and prepared it for molding. The women also dusted the clay before shaping it in the mold that was wooden. Though it was a tasking job, women were also involved in the process of throwing prepared loafs of clay into the mold and scrapping that clay that was in excess from the mold.
This was done using a wooden board that they pulled across the mold that containing the wet clay. Other than scrapping the clay that was in excess from the mold, this process that was referred to as striking was also meant to smoothen the clay. It was also the work of the women to carry the prepared molds to the beds where they were meant to be sun dried.
After the bricks were sun dried, they were fired in a kiln for about one week. It was now the work of the men. The men sealed the kiln with clay and placed wood in the tunnels of the kiln and then lit the fire. Since the fire was not supposed to go off but rather was supposed to keep glowing, men had to tend this fire. During the time of tending the fire, the men had to stir the coals by the use of a hook that was made of iron and was eight foot long.
It was difficult work since they watched round the clock as the bricks burned and they had very little sleep. All they had to do was to lit a fire in the foreground that provided them with warmth during that time when they were tending the fire kiln. Brick making trade was a slave trade and this can be shown by the fact that despite the temperatures of the kiln being very high that is 1850 degrees Fahrenheit, the men still had to open the door of the kiln and observe how the bricks glowed.
Other than tending the kiln and removing bricks after they were ready, the men did the work of construction and repair. They had to do the construction in pattern. It was not the best form of construction since the tools they used for example the trowel were not original but rather a reproduction. They as well burned oyster shells which they used as a lime mortar for the brickyard. The men also had to ensure that the bricks were leveled for both the construction and repair work.