Friday, February 24, 2012

Bricks, Slight Return

For those of you who read the comments to the previous post, here is the re-pointing in question.  Quality work, or what?  Now who says standards are in decline?




That, by the way, is the very high quality brickwork of the building in which I happen to work, laid 100 years ago by true craftsmen -- men whose spirits must be falling about laughing at the spectacle of what has been done to their mighty labours by their great grandchildren.  I have spent many idle minutes gazing at it out of my office window, trying to work out the cunning patterning of longs and shorts that gives that vast cliff of red brick its springy rhythm.

11 comments:

Martin said...

Nothing short of vandalism. If paint was sprayed, there would be an outcry, but this 'botched job' is the standard that many have come to expect/accept, without question. I very much doubt if the perpetrator ever served an apprenticeship. If they did, it wasn't in bricklaying.

Mike C. said...

Martin,

It's shockingly bad, isn't it? Looks like they've used "exterior grade" polyfilla, applied with a thumb.

In a way, this kind of thing cheers me up, as when I get into an "Is everything rubbish these days, or is it just me?" mood, it confirms that it's not just me.

The idea that a professional job is a job done to a high standard, efficiently, and for the going rate is becoming antique. Then again, people aren't prepared to pay a reasonable going rate -- "It is the duty of the wealthy man / To give employment to the artisan"...

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

One does wonder whether the "craftsman" considered his options on this job. Or did his supervisor tell him/her that it didn't matter? I was once told by a super that I was doing "too good a job". But then again, that guy was a serious jack-leg. I pity the poor old house that he was "restoring". I think it was more like a deliberate desecration.

struan said...

There is a better way....

http://www.janvormann.com/testbild/dispatchwork/


If you feel like popping out to Bishop's Waltham, the brick wall around the south side of Palace House was supposedly used as a testbed for the patterns used at Hampton Court.

Eventually, even the worst jobs turn into wabi sabi. Somewhere I have a neg from HC showing the patterns that result when gardeners bang cut nails into brickwork for five hundred years.

Mike C. said...

Struan,

Of course... I hadn't included the possibility that this might be an artistic "intervention"... It all makes sense now!

Mike

Bronislaus Janulis / Framewright said...

For us befuddled cousins across the sea: jack-leg, wabi-sabi?

Mike C. said...

Bron,

Kent is a fellow US citizen, so your guess is as good as mine (probably better) and "wabi sabi" is a Japanese aesthetic category, much discussed in this blog -- why not google it!

Mike

Martyn Cornell said...

As the son and great-grandson of bricklayers I'm ashamed I can never remember which one is Flemish bond (header-stretcher-header-stretcher) and which one is English bond (row of headers on top of row of stretchers) but having looked it up, your first picture below is English bond, your second one (the wall) is standard stretcher bond as used for non-loadbearing one-brick-thick walls, while the wall illustrated in this post appears to be Common or American bond, which is where rows of stretchers are replaced every x number of rows by a row of headers. There's a nice website on the subject here. And, indeed, that repointing is crap. My dad would have had a fit.

Mike C. said...

Martyn,

I think it's more complicated than that -- I'll take a proper photo of an entire wall, and we may be able to work it out -- as well as rows of headers, every Xth brick in a normal row is a header, too. It makes what would otherwise be a boring expanse of red brick a delight to look at.

Mike

Bronislaus Janulis / Framewright said...

Jack-leg is an Americanism, mid 19th c. , sort of an unsrupulous hack, used on both preachers and workmen.

Very familar with the aesthetic principle, just not the term; one of the problems of a "jack-leg" education.
Autodidact. 8-)

Kent Wiley said...

Thanks Bron. Never bothered to look up "jack leg." I got it from a fellow worker and friend who hails from Tidewater Virginia, and I always assumed it meant exactly how you've defined it.