building walls

when i come down to the studio in the morning, there’s the wonderful home depot dolphin standing at attention, holding my artist smock and homemade leather hat.  what a helpful dolphin.  your turn’s coming.  and yes, that’s me in the mirror.

what i did today was simply glue on pipes.  but simply hardly explains it, and it took all bloody day to put on one pipe and finish the patching on the other.  all day.  and it’s after midnight now.

the gray stuff is the putty.  this batch turns out gray when you mix it, the last stuff turned out white, the stuff after this stuff turns out white too.  who knows, same damned batch as far as i can tell.

the putty holds the shape of the pipe, which you can see to the left, on the floor, half wrapped in a plastic bag.  the bag is to keep the clay from getting into the gauze glued to the pipe.  i don’t want it sticking until i’ve got all the clay in the right place, and have glued the pipe into one end.  at this point the pipe is loose, as you can see.  the clay doesn’t go all the way to either end, so there’s going to be unsupported pipe that someone might hook a hand around and pull.

but i have a surprise for anyone who wants to do that.  i spend some time drilling a 1/4″ hole into the fiberglass wavelet.  i was surprised how hard fiberglass is, it took some pressure.  and i had to put my scarf over my nose because of all the fiberglass dust it generated.  which is bad for you.

so i drilled a hole, found a bolt, gave it a washer for good measure, and ran it in from the back.  to do this i had to tilt the dolphin against the wall, which made me quite nervous for a few minutes.  and when it was clear it was going to work, i put a dollop of putty all around the bolt head inside the sculpture.  when it dries it’s not going to go anywhere forever.

then i put a whole bunch of putty around the bolt, and when it came time to fit the end of the pipe on, it was a simple process.  because of a bend in the pipe, the putty couldn’t go anywhere, and wasn’t dislodged when i put the bolt in.  i won’t be so lucky on some of them.

this is the finished abutment work on the pipe i just laid.  the gray putty underlays everything that comes even close to the surface.

this is from the other side.  you can see a hole at the bottom of the gray putty.  that’s a drainage hole, but i did it with a stick after building it.  because i didn’t notice it until the putty was on and drying, and i didn’t feel like ripping it up to put in a piece of tubing.  so i made one and when it dries it will be just as good.

the protein skimmer.  an empty vitamin c bottle, pasted onto the legs of a dolphin with putty and just sitting there, empty.  so i thought i’d fill it.

i’d already decided i didn’t need much structure for the skimmer cap, so i decided to fill it with styrofoam, since i had some lying around the studio.  2″ styrofoam, and i just crumbled away the excess bulk.  it’s very lightweight stuff, and i swear i popped some of the pellets just by mushing them into the vitamin bottle.

so i filled the bottle with crumbled foam and then mixed up a little more acrylic and poured it into the bottle until there was no air.  right now, six hours later, the liquid is still very much liquid, and so i can’t put the top on and finish the skimmer yet.  it’s going to take ‘several’ days for it to set up; i’m going to have to wait for all that water to evaporate before the acrylic can set and cure.

and here’s how i’m ending up the day.  i’ve got the pipes connected to both pumps, and i’m ready to start messing with the long sections.  i cut my teeth on these small sections, only about a foot long each, and they’re looking pretty good.  look how well i did the plane between the flipper and the right edge of the pipe, pretty smooth, eh?

gluing on the bases was easy, i did that yesterday.  and this morning, i guess, i glued on the pumps to the bases.  i was going to use epoxy glue, like instant bonding stuff, but decided in the end to stick with the epoxy putty.  once i had them stuck down to the bases, i couldn’t resist the temptation to cover them up with epoxy.  gradually, thruout the day, the built-up structures have gotten more massive and organic looking.  now i’ve got all sorts of places way more covered than they have to be.

but i have the time, so why shouldn’t i do the best job i know how?  only i’ll know, but it makes a difference to me.  when i worked as a garbage collector, i tried to be the best damned garbage collector in town.  and was handsomely rewarded for it, by getting first pick at all the good stuff people throw out – i got a whole set of wooden salad bowls because one of them cracked.  shouldn’t put them in the dishwasher, idiot, was what i thought as i thanked the garbage gods and stuffed the rest into my stash.

but that’s another tale.  tomorrow it’s nonstop supports until i run out of putty.  and since i’m only starting on my third batch, and still have one more in reserve, i should make it thru to monday if i have to.

except for that snow and ice storm that’s forecast for monday…


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