What untold history may rest on the facade of your brick house in Tacoma, Washington? You may have the good fortune of your home being built with Clinker (sometimes spelled Klinker) brick. Clinker brick are brick pieces that when wet and placed too close to the fire in a kiln, became distorted and discolored–some even with a volcanic contort to them due to the extreme heat of the coal fires and slight melting principles that took place. The word, 'Clinker' is said to have described the tone or sound made when the bricks 'klinked' together. Colors of the brick, depending on heat levels, range from reds, oranges, yellows, browns, purples and blacks. You also see many with warted projections reinforcing their uniqueness much like a snowflake or pearl.
In the early 1900's these bricks began to be recognized as a valuable, artsy, and eccentric way of decorating a house, chimney or entry way. Sometimes the Clinker brick would be used to spell out the name of the home owner or the house numbers of a residence.These imperfect manufacturing accidents are no longer being produced in coal fired kilns. Instead, in this day and age of perfection where bricks are almost flawless in dimension, the result of mechanical production thousands at a time, most original Clinker brick is recovered in salvage operations and resold to those renovating or replicating a lost era in nostalgia.
So, if you go for a stroll through a Tacoma neighborhood or happen to live in a brick structure, take a close look–do you hear the musical nature of the crooked face sprinkled with Clinker brick? If so, share your homes' history with others and speak of days gone by where what was once viewed as manufacturer discard is now cherished as an unobtainable treasure.