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This page describes the work of a colonial brickmaker. Did you know that colonial brickmakers could make different colored bricks by adding certain sands or ashes to the mixture?


Home >> United States History >> 13 Colonies >> 13 Colonies Trades >> Brick Maker

Brickmaking at the restoration of the Jamestown Church Tower

Brickmakers were important in colonial towns and their trade contributed to the overall appearance of the village or city. Brickmakers made their products by digging clay from the ground. They would then mix the clay with water and mash it with their feet to produce the right consistency in an area called a treading pit. Debris such as sticks, rocks, and leaves would then be removed. Different colored bricks were made by adding sand or ashes to the mixture.

The mixture would then be placed in a wooden mold to make the right shape. Within the molds, the brick mixtures would dry for a week or so before being moved to a drying shed where they would be stored for up to six weeks. When they were fully dried, they would be fired in a brick kiln sealed with clay for up to six days at temperatures approaching 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit where they would glow yellow from the intense heat. Up to 20,000 bricks could be fired at a time, though not all would be usable.