Pauline Alt

Exploring a material
Mixing loam

Loam is used as a construction material for 1000s of years, even though it’s a quite simple mixture out of sand, silk and clay.
I wanted to explore this material.

Many facts or information are less helpful in this case. More the material itself can help to explore it the right way.
The idea was to get to know the material by mixing, touching it or experimenting with it.
I wanted to get an understanding of loam as well as I wanted to give an understanding of it, that people can use it how it is supposed to be used.

As I started this project, my aim was to generate the perfect mixture of loam, only by testing different compositions with the components sand, silt, clay and water.
I wanted to create something that everyone can explore by himself.

Because you can’t become a professional pizza dough baker when you only know the ingredients and its quantities. You need to try it a couple of times to know the perfect consistence, how much oil you need to add etc.
It is an experience people have made but can’t express because they cannot transfer it into words how the perfect dough feels like.

To overcome this difficulty, take loam, touch it and try to read it.

Here are some insights to see what I did.

The first mixtures.

 The self check – Roll balls of different loam mixtures and let them dry for 8 days. Then throw them to the ground. Which one is the sturdiest?

An overview of all mixtures I´ve got.

Dry the Clay to a Working Consistency – Use some dry plaster. It absorbs the water, pulling it right out of the clay.

Of course I´ve got some real loam out of an brickyard close to Munich to compare it with my loam mixtures.

Try it yourself! I´m sure, after some loam mixtures, you already have an idea how the material works and what the material is about.

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