Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adobe Brick Making in Patzcuaro, Mexico

(Please Note: To see an updated version of this post go to Making Adobe Bricks In Patzcuaro, Michoacan.)
 Since my last post was on bricks I thought I would follow up with one on making adobes (unfired) in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico.  We were fortunate to be able to spend a month at the Hotel Villa Patzcuaro RV Park right on the edge of town.  One of the owner's sons Hernan Pimentel was an architect and a contractor who lived on the same rather large piece of property.  He also had a couple of houses that he had designed on the property as well as a newer building that I think was supposed to be a kitchen area for the campground as well as for special parties.  He also had an adobe brick making operation for his business right beside the campground.  I couldn't believe my good luck.

(Please Note: To see an updated version of this post go to Making Adobe Bricks In Patzcuaro, Michoacan.)

There are three main differences between brick making here as compared to New Mexico.  Using a horse to mix the mud is probably the biggest. I can't say it was much faster but it was certainly a new twist.  Then as you will notice in the photo they are using pine needles instead of straw as the fibers in the bricks.  There are a lot of pine trees in this area and probably not many wheat fields.  Hernan was adamant about the need for a fiber as I am also.

The mud is carefully packed into the form and then pulled off. The third big difference is that the bricks are larger: 4" x 12" x 16" to 20" as compared to our 4" x 10" x 14". As you will notice in the first photo the bricks are very nice looking and even though there is a fair amount of cracking they are plenty strong. I liked the larger size.    
The drying is pretty much the same although they may take a little longer. These bricks were made in January and night time temps were in the 30's with warm days and higher humidity than we have in N.M.

This is the partially completed kitchen and dining area next to the campground and adjacent to where the bricks were made, designed and built by Hernan.
This beautiful wood fired oven is in the rear of the kitchen shown above. These are great examples of what can be done with adobe.

Another detail from the front of the kitchen. Hernan relies on traditional techniques and materials but incorporates his own modern designs into his work. He has built some beautiful residences around town, but here I am only including his work at this site.