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December 26, 2006 1:04 PM CST

NAWM Shares Masonry Techniques in Chile

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Laura Johnson gives one-on-one attention to attendees in the plastering demonstration area. Photo courtesy of the National Association for Women in Masonry.
Laura Johnson gives one-on-one attention to attendees in the plastering demonstration area. Photo courtesy of the National Association for Women in Masonry.

Trades work in Chile has carried a stigma that its workers are lower class, poorly educated and poorly trained; there is no union, and there are no established installation techniques or quality standards that workers must achieve.

According to Juan Pablo Covarrubias, general manager of the Institute of Concrete and Cement (ICH) in Santiago, Chile, structural brickwork often is completed with a shovel rather than a trowel. A typical wall is built with a shovelful of mud laid across the course of bricks, then the bricks are placed in somewhat of a line across the row of mud no individual buttering of bricks, nor lead lines.

In response to this troublesome trend in Chilean construction, ICH was created to aid its workers in becoming better craftspersons and to increase the status of Chile's trades workers. Sponsored by ICH, Expo Hormigon an annual building tradeshow held in Santiago is one such opportunity to bring new ideas and technologies, help create national building standards, increase the quality of the work and the worker, and to raise awareness across the country. ICH is committed to "teaching the teachers," so that every worker trained has the potential of passing on the instruction to other workers.

At this year's Expo Hormigon in May, five members of the National Association of Women in Masonry (NAWM) participated in the tradeshow. From the group's booth, the women provided attendees an education in the art and technique of masonry and plastering. During the four-day Expo, attendees numbered approximately 300,000 and many of them stopped by the NAWM booth and attended the group's technical seminars.

NAWM now has numerous new members, as well as corporate sponsors. The most exciting part of this adventure is that a masonry school is being discussed and could open in as soon as two months. And to continue the good work, NAWM was invited to return and teach masonry and plastering in the future.

For more information regarding membership and/or sponsorship of NAWM, visit www.nawmonline.net.


About the Author

Barbara Hedrick is the Executive Director for the National Association for Women in Masonry.

 

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