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Building brick mini-house – bonsai project

Building brick mini-house – bonsai project

Generally in winter, the bonsai activities are less and I feel that I have to take advantage of the “free” time to build some of my ideas that were for a long period of time only in my imagination. The following posts will all regard the ideas that this winter became reality. I saw on Pinterest many pictures of temples that were covered by roots of ancient trees. So, this was the trigger that made me imagine an old brick abandoned house that has a tree growing over it and its roots cover the rooftop and some of the walls. So I started designing in my mind the entire project. First of all, I needed miniature bricks. To create these, I took a normal old brick and using an angle grinder with a concrete cutting disk, I cut all my miniature bricks.

The size of these is about 30mm x 15mm x 10mm. I was not interested to have all of them identical in dimensions, as by this the walls of the future house will look even more aged. To stick them together the best, cheapest and simplest solution that I found was to use concrete. However, the natural color of the concrete, that gray, was not satisfactory considering the light red color of the bricks. So, the solution was to mix concrete with red oxide pigment to obtain a red nuanced material to glue the bricks together.

In order to have each time the same color of the final mix, you have to use the same quantity of cement to the same quantity of oxide and water. As you will see, the project cannot be done in one day, but it took more than a week to complete the entire house.

After mixing the concrete, the fist step was to lay a base on which the future bricks were to stay. Normally this base would be under the soil level in the future pot, so it will not be visible but ensures a good stability of the walls.

While the mix was still fresh, I placed the first row of bricks, trying to keep them as leveled as possible in order to be able to easily place the future rows on top of the first one.

 After finishing to place the second row, I had to wait for a day in order for the concrete to dry as the second row was already moving freely and could not support the third one.

Next day I continued and this way, I practically applied about two rows each day till it reached the desired height.

After finishing to build the walls, I realised that there was a challenge to build the cover of the house. I preliminary considered using some wood insertions to keep the top in place, but considering that this will be a future bonsai landscape, by watering the wood would rot away and create further problems to the plants. Finally, I found the solution. I covered the entire top of the house with plastic used for covering food for refrigerators. I strengthened it with an elastic rubber around the walls and started placing the bricks one near the next one. Before I placed the bricks into position I added on all its sides fresh concrete. When placing it into position I pushed it gently towards the rest of them in order to create a good contact area.

This way I built the entire cover in probably half an hour. I left it to dry for about 2-3 days and after that I removed the plastic that was between the roof and the walls.

As you can see in the picture above, the entire roof became one plate of solid bricks. More, using the plastic it got the perfect shape to fit on the top of the walls, and in the middle it has a small hole that will be perfect to fit the tree. The small gaps that remained between the bricks of the roof will became drainage holes for the future planting. After removing the plastic, using a small amount of fresh cement I fixed the roof to the walls and let it dry for another 2 days.

In the end, this is the final product of building the abandoned brick house  that will be covered by the roots in a “root over house” project. I hope that by late spring or early summer I will be able to continue this project, placing on it the tree. At this moment, the future tree is kept only in water in order to promote growth of long roots that will cover this house.

Hope that my work inspired you!
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