I’m starting to go a bit stir crazy

OK, here we are starting week four of the stay at home order. Like most of you, I’m starting to go a bit stir crazy. Yes, we do have work to complete in the studio. Yes we are still filling customer orders and finishing up some pieces in the studio.  And finally, we are trying to make plans for the time when we can reopen and get back to teaching classes and making beautiful things.

I’m a glass blower I don’t like to be cold

Working alone in the studio is good, but I do greatly miss the flame and working with my team. With the rain last week here in San Diego and no flame the studio is downright cold.   I’m a glass blower I don’t like to be cold and find it difficult to concentrate when I am.  We have had a few of what Carol calls “I Love Lucy” moments, those mistakes that happen when you are not really paying attention.   I thought I would share one that has a happy ending.

One last project

One of the last projects on my list is to repair a large Murano glass fish sculpture, named Nemo that came off its base.

Over the years I have repaired quite a bit of Murano glass. While the Italian glass blowers are very talented and competent at designing and making elaborate sculptural pieces, my experience is that their cold working skills, aren’t so good, especially in the glue department. The scenario is almost always the same, glue joint on a large and cantilevered piece. The glue gives up; the piece comes apart hits something hard and chips and/or breaks.

Back to Nemo;

about a month before the shutdown a customer came in with a large glass fish he and his wife purchased in Murano more than 15 years prior. It was clear what happened, one of the little rubber feet used to stabilize the sculpture had come off, the sculpture was then tippy, it hit the floor and the glue let go.   Other than a few chips he was in pretty good shape.

They came to Dr. Glass for some help.   I said no, repairs on heavy pieces like this are risky; there is always a possibility of further damage.  The client insisted he understood, was willing to take the risk and based on recommendations he felt I was the only person that could do it, flattery goes along way at Stone and Glass ; ).  Neither of us could have guessed how this repair would progress.

I had to clean and prep the broken surfaces, grind and polish the surface cracks and finally glue the fish to the base. The fish weighs about 20 pounds and the base another 6 to 8 pounds. Because of the size and the weight that was off axis, I felt the absolute strongest glue on the market was the only answer. Hextall; originally designed for the space program to hold the tiles to the bottom of the space shuttle. It is mean nasty stuff, optically transparent and will not let go once it is cured.  It’s fairly easy to use but it does have a long cure cycle. It takes three days before it cures enough to handle the attached pieces and fourteen days to cure completely.  The most important thing and I can NOW attest to this is; once fully cured there is no chemical solution available to make it release. Being present when you make the connection is VERY important.

being present is not easy

With all that is going on in the world and working in a cold studio, being present is not easy.

On the day I prepared the surfaces and the glue I thought I was there but I must have been someplace else.   I put the pieces together made sure they were secure in the brace.   When I returned to the studio to check the attachment I realized I assembled it 180 degrees off and of course it stuck.  What was I thinking? there is no way this thing is stable; it will just fall over again.   I had no choice but to tell the client.  This client is amazing, didn’t freak about the error.  Said we are in this together, just let him know when Nemo is swimming in the right direction.

We; me and team Stone and Glass, launch on a voyage of discovery, can we get this adhesive to debond with any chemical agent?   After many attempts the answer is a resounding NO.  We did get it apart with a little glass black magic.

And now Nemo is swimming in the right direction ready to go home when the virus to recedes.

Moral of the story;

be kind to yourself and others, these are challenging times, keep on swimming, we will get though this together.