Vintage and Classic Cameras
Zeiss Ikon, Contina I (d) (526/24-mod), 35mm Camera. Sample images - 3
Vietnamese Brick Kilns

Scattered around the Vietnamese country, you often find clusters of brick kilns used to make the local distinctive bricks, seen in the foreground of this image. The bricks themselves are smooth without a frog and largely hollow, making them very light. The bricks appear to be fired rather like pottery, rather than 'burnt' as in English practice where in some cases the fuel is partially mixed in with the clay so that it burns during the process. Vietnamese brickwork on close inspection looks like a complete disaster, with bricks pushed in at seeming any conceivable angle with cement oozing out of the joints and left unfinished. This provides the rough key for the subsequent layers of plaster to go which the Vietnamese are undoubtedly experts, as a perfectly flat and smooth surface results, concealing the bricks beneath. Most dwellings are single skinned as heat retention isn't exactly a problem......

Vietnamese Brick Kilns

Beehive brick kiln

Usually the brick kilns are a rather unsightly "Scotch Kiln" angular construction away from the road, but driving back from the Cao Dai temple I came across these rather more attractive Beehive examples. These do not appear to be of the downdraught type. There are bricks protruding from the dome to form a spiral stairway to the apex. The dome itself is very nicely made, being just one brick thick and is quite a technical achievement in it's own right. Owing to my lack of Vietnamese I wasn't able to find out from the owner how many firings a kiln could survive before needing to be rebuilt, even though they were very happy to show me around. Three chimneys are placed around the periphery to allow a good draw of air required to keep a high and even temperature inside the kiln. The bricks themselves appear to be made and dried off site prior to firing.

Inside the fuel sheds with the kiln mouths to the right. A variety of fuel is used, but amongst wood a large amount of ground coconut husk is used, this can be seen spilling out of the bays to the left. When being used the kiln entrance is physically bricked up, the firing takes two days then a further two days to cool down before the bricks can be removed and added to the store, the whole process can take a week.

Inside the fuel sheds with the kiln mouths to the right

dome and the apex vent

Inside an empty kiln about to be recharged, looking straight up into the dome and the apex vent.


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