Craft & Design Furniture & Lighting
Smooth-carved vessels, other forms from brick and mortar

This bowl is actually carved from a block of normal bricks joined with mortar. Even though it looks lathe-turned, I can’t imagine that a slab of conventional brick masonry would hold together during turning, even if you could find a lathe that was able to turn it. Maybe it could be done at extremely low speed? Suffice to say I’m very curious about their process, and other examples on this page lead me to suspect it involves a CNC mill and/or a shop full of very dedicated craftspeople. [via Dude Craft]

16 thoughts on “Smooth-carved vessels, other forms from brick and mortar

  1. “Must be CNC” seems to be a common response to something out of the ordinary, which is odd for a DIY site. And just because it’s round doesn’t mean they used a lathe. The multi-dish bowls on the site means this is not a turning operation.
    My guess is an angle grinder with masonry blades (to rough it out), a low speed turntable (like a pottery wheel turned way down, with some sort of clamping setup), shaping/polishing gear from the granite countertop business, and lots of water. You’re right about the shop full of very dedicated craftspeople, though.

    1. …that the Yii project site and the linked designboom article describe a vague “industrial process” used to manufacture these items, which is why my mind leaped to thoughts of lathes and CNC mills. I don’t doubt that a dedicated craftsperson working with hand tools could do this, but the “industrial” language suggested otherwise to me.

        1. Also from TFA:

          “each of the pieces is created by carving out of a block of the industrial building material.
          the vases and bowls are achieved through an industrial technique.”

          Some are specifically hand-carved, some use a mysterious “industrial technique”.

          You’re both right :)

  2. These are pretty neat. No way I would spin a hunk of bricks at high or even moderate rpms.

    I am a woodturner but if I was tasked with turning pieces like this I know what I would try. I have seen a hunky old turret lathe outfitted with low gearing and a router on an armature instead of a toolrest.

    So instead of leveraging a tool against a toolrest to make cuts, you use crank levers to move the high RPM router bit into the material that is moving at a slow RPM.

  3. @Dave- I think you have it.

    I was looking at manufacturing granite cabinet pulls using ‘an industrial process’ that had the rough blank turning on the end of a spindle, and a 4″ diamond abrasive wheel moving in an arc, with a water feed to cool and lubricate. Never did pursue it…But if a suitable ‘mortar’ was used, epoxy based maybe, I feel I could duplicate this.

    OK, the inside cut of the bowl is a masterpiece, and I would surely destroy a few blanks to learn how to do that :)

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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