Zebra Mussel Concrete Bricks
Zebra mussels where first discovered in Lake St. Clair near Detroit in 1988 and have since colonized throughout the Great Lakes region and major water ways of North America. The shells of dead zebra mussels can be found in abundance along the shores of Lake Michigan. These mussels are thought to have originated in the Black or Caspian Sea half a world away and hitchhiked their way to North America by way of the ballast water of a shipping vessel.
Concrete is used more than any other man made material and every year roughly 1 cubic metre for every person on earth is produced. I have made several bricks that contain calcined Zebra mussel shells, blood, beer, and horse hair. These bricks contain 100% mussel shells to 50% mussel shells with a mixture of industrial cement and whole shells. I have used beer, blood and horse hair as binding agents. The Romans used blood to prevent frost and horse hair to prevent cracking of concrete. Beer is used in place of water as a symbol of Milwaukee’s heritage just as now Zebra mussels are a part of that heritage. Could these elements of our city and surroundings and of culture and nature be able to sustain us structurally?
C. Matthew Luther