Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kiln progress, or lack thereof and ensuing excuses

I have neglected my blog! I knew it would happen eventually. I was doing pretty good at updating it at least once a week, but I got caught up in some other things.

Making a photo book for my father-in-law's 80th birthday has kept me occupied most of the last month. I used so I could do all the layout online and everyone in th
e family can order a copy if they like it. I enjoyed the process, looking through all the old photos, seeing some I had never seen before, and seeing some I hadn't seen for years!! It brought back a lot of memories, I hope it does the same for my father-in-law. But it was a bit of a daunting task, and projects like this always cause my obsessive-compulsive persona to raise its ugly head. That means that many late nights were spent on the laptop with me cursing and groaning my way through hundreds, maybe thousands of photos, trying to narrow it down, trying to make sure I included everyone equally and didn't show any favoritism. Trying to figure out the graphics, trying to figure out what to put on the jacket, on the cover, I got carried away with the project, which is what I tend to do in this situation. But, I finally got it finished and I'm having one printed right now, which should arrive next week, just a few days before the big celebration. I'm sure I'll find several typos and other mistakes when it arrives which will drive me nuts, but at least I did it and didn't just say, "Oh, I was going to put together a book of photos for you, but I didn't have time." Nope, I did it!! Yay me.

I've also gotten a little carried with facebook. I think I've been using it to fulfill my
blogging desires, in a faster, easier way. (instant gratification?) I've uploaded photos and I can check on friends and relatives and share my tidbits of wisdom in a few minutes. I have a sneaking suspicion that tidbits are really all anyone wants to read any ways. Who has time to wade through this incoherent rambling of what's rolling around in my head?!

I really need to update my kiln progress. I noticed in a previous post I mentioned that I was surprised at how quickly we seemed to be progressing. I guess I shouldn't have said that because the last
few days I've been restless because I'm ready to start potting and it seems like it's going to be awhile. The kiln itself is going up at a steady pace, but I need to start getting the studio set up and organized so I can start making some pots. It's my own fault, really. I've been procrastinating because it means I'll have to carry a bunch of junk into the house and figure out where to store it. And I'll have to buy some kind of storage units for the garage and I've been trying to avoid spending a lot of money. And we do have a lot of other projects going on, plus, of course things always come up with family and friends. Excuses, excuses!! I'm going to try to focus next week completely on the kiln and my studio. (I'm taking a big chance stating that because I feel like I might jinx myself.) But we'll give it a whirl.

I also saw in a previous post that I thought I would only need one more session to get al
l the bricks cleaned up. Well, as usual, I underestimated the time and effort that project would require! I was grinding bricks yesterday and still have more to go!! We had enough to get started laying them so I quit grinding them. It's such a hot and dirty job!! I was trying to grind in between helping Steve put up roof sections. So I'd just get going on the bricks then he would need a hand so I'd have to remove the goggles and mask and go help him, then back to the pile, put on the goggles and mask and grind a little more. I wonder if the goggles and mask are really helping all that much. I figured out the goggles weren't fitting properly when a chunk of brick flipped up and somehow landed inside my goggles!! The mask was preventing me from fitting them snugly against the bridge of my nose. So if a big chunk can get in, how much dust must've been getting in?? I don't want to think about it.

So this is where we're at as of this morning......

The roof is almost "done." We'll cut out sections for the chimney as it gets high enough to warrant such measures!

This is how far the walls have progressed. We're using 2 1/2" hard brick on the inside (those are the bricks I purchased used, that I've been cleaning and grinding.) The outside is soft brick. They're 3" tall and are making it "fun" to line things up. Every so many rows you need a "header" course (I think that's what it's called.) It's where you lay a row of bricks that spans both walls to tie them together. Since the outer and inner layer of bricks aren't the same size, it took us 5 rows before they actually lined up. (You do the math, it's too algebraeic for me!) And now that we're finally there, they weren't actually lining up, but at least they're purty darn close! The soft outer layer seems to be just a tad lower than the inner layer. So we're going to try to compensate with a thick layer of mortar on the soft bricks. Hope it works!

It feels like we've had too many instances of figuring out how to make something work. Not only with the kiln, but with the kiln shed as well!! But it will eventually least I'm hopeful that it will!! Only time will tell!

I feel as though I've not been as involved in the process as I'd like to be. It's my own damn fault. I'm letting myself become a little intimidated by my husband and my friend who are both involved in the process. It's a good thing they're both involved, or I'd never be able to accomplish this thing, BUT, they're both a little anal (which is probably a good thing in the long run) and we're all somewhat competitive, so I'm afraid I'm going to do something wrong and I find myself hanging back and doing the grunt work rather than rolling up my sleeves and really getting into it. They probably think I'm being a lazy bum but that's not it, really. I think I'd be more involved if I was working with just one or the other of them, but the fact that there are 3 of us working together does make the situation start to have a "too many cooks spoil the broth" kinda flavor.

Of course this is the first kiln I've ever built and the first kiln shed too, so maybe it's not such a bad idea to stand back and let the guys go at it and learn from what I see them doing. Being a wife and mother, I'm used to doing alot of grunt work, and to be honest, I don't really mind doing it. I absolutely hate to stand around and do nothing, so if I can be productive cleaning and sorting bricks or handing tools to someone, well.....somebody's got to do it, right?! And then when I build my next kiln, I'll feel more confident about being more hands-on, right? That's the way I look at. Plus, if there are any major problems down the road, I can bask in the smug satisfaction of knowing that "it wasn't MY fault." Hmmmmm, perhaps that's my main motivation for keeping a low profile!

So, I suppose I need to get my butt out of this chair and get out there and do some organizing in the studio. Scott's coming out tomorrow to help us lay more brick. I'm sure he'll be stunned at what little progress we've made this week!! He's a trooper!! Yay Scott.

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