oh the burden

with the weight of a dolphin on my shoulders, i struggle to complete my heroic task before it all falls over.

no, seriously.  i’m right on the edge of catastrophe here, because if i tilt the dolphin the wrong way, or too far, it’ll break the window it’s leaning too close to.  i really shouldn’t do this by myself because it’s too unstable.  so i’m going to end up waiting until the end to do most of the underneath work.  i’m going to figure out a way to prop it up at both ends (sawhorses, i suspect), and get in there with plenty of putty to wrap around all the bolts i’m going to install.

already i’ve had to swap out the battery on the drill.  i can’t believe how hard it is to drill thru fiberglass.

in the photo, you can see i’m right underneath the dolphin, at the back of all those curlicue waves.  and the inside is nothing like the outside.  i thought it would mirror it, but it only vaguely suggests the detail on the outside.

i’ve got to say that i feel i know the sculptor now.  i’ve been going over every wavelet with my hands, using the same thumb motions that the person who built my dolphin used to carve out each wave.  as my thumbs trace that person’s, i feel connected with them, i feel it’s a girl but who knows – energy doesn’t have male and female poles.  but leave it to say i feel much more respect for the sculptor’s craft, and grateful to the maker of my dolphin for making it so well and thoughtfully.

i spent all day waiting for the snow, which has exceeded expectations so far.  four inches and still falling.  anyway, i kept looking at the sky and second-guessing the forecasters.  and i was right, for a change.  wheee.

i spent all day mixing up epoxy putty and putting it around my pipes.  last night i finished attaching and gluing down the pipe leading to the right pump, and putting extra putty where needed on the finished left pump’s intake pipe.

today i attached the line leading from a wavelet around to the bottom of the protein skimmer.  it’s the long pipe that has that gray insert that doesn’t stick.  i profiled this in an earlier post.  they’re both pvc, but one’s white plumbing pvc, and the other is gray electrical pvc, and i’m using oatey transparent pvc glue, an all purpose stickum that’s supposed to handle this.

and doesn’t.  in some cases it did stick, with no trouble.  in other cases, it never firmed up, never grabbed, never set.  i’ve got this in two places.  the 1/2″ pipe i was just talking about, and the connection of one of the branches of 3/4″ pipe in the back of the dolphin.

it’s funny, but i was getting ready to attach the 3/4″ pipe this morning.  even drilled the hole for the bolt and installed it in the underside.  and then i realized that this pipe overlays the 1/2″ pipe just mentioned.  the 2″ pipe also overlays this, and i’d already decided to put that on last.  but i didn’t think there’d be a problem doing it this way.  and i would have made a serious mistake if i had.

because you’ve got to start from the sculpted surface and build out, no matter if the layer is free standing or attached.  so i had to rip a bunch of putty off the base and set it aside while i got the 1/2″ pipe out and drilled another hole and sat around with the pipe in my lap until i remembered all the things i have to do with it (that’s another important step – spending time with the pieces so you catch your prior train of thought).

and why do you build out from the surface?  because if i’d put the 3/4″ pipe on, even tho there’s room to fit the 1/2″ pipe, wiggle it around until it’s under the 3/4″ pipe, my fingers now can’t get to a whole lot of places that need putty, and i’m reduced to using tools instead of my fingers, which are far better for the job.

so on went the pipe.  with three or four, i lost track, baseball-sized batches of epoxy putty.  you can’t really see it here, which is a continuing disappointment to me, but the pipe is attached with gray putty that looks like shadows, with gaps in some places, and built-out bridging in others.  eventually i had most of the pipe firmly attached (on the bottom and sides) to the base with up to two inches of putty.  which will take some time to cure.

funny thing about the epoxy i’m using.  this is my third set of containers, and i’ve got one more in reserve because of the snow (hah).  the last two containers were bought at the same time, and the one before was from the same shipment.  the first one was of unknown age.  each one has mixed up differently.  the stuff in this current container doesn’t want to smooth out with water, but the first and second containers were easy to smooth with a wet fingertip.  and the color mixes up differently each time i mix a batch, even from the same tub.  the stuff i just put on is mid-gray.  the stuff before, from the same container, was white.  stuff from the container before this one was much darker.

and, funny thing, one of my batches of putty, the one i put on last night, is not setting up.  it’s still malleable after 24 hours.

does all this mean that the proportions are incredibly important and i’m getting all these variations because i’m judging by weight and feel and must be way off?  let me just look it up.  well, i can’t find anything.  who the hell knows why it’s a different color every time, and sometimes it doesn’t set?  i don’t.  if it continues to not set, i’ll rip it out and try with another batch.  just like with the gray pipe not bonding to the white pipe – i’ll figure something out.

the mixture of styrofoam and acrylic modeling paste inside my protein skimmer (vitamin bottle) is still liquid.  but that’s okay.  there was a fair bit of water in it, and it’ll shrink down.  if it hasn’t dried when i’m ready to assemble the protein skimmer, then i’ll put a pinhole in the jar to let air in, and go ahead with it.

tomorrow i’m putting on the 1/2″ pipe from the protein skimmer to a wavelet.  i used up half a container of epoxy today.

and tomorrow is a snow day.

which is a work day with no interruptions.  yay.


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