Saturday, September 29, 2007

Since You Asked...

Hey, everybody! I'm finally back. This has been a hectic week. We got back about 9:00 p.m. Sunday night and then work has been full speed as we were getting ready for a big pour on Friday. Anyway, as Karl requested, here are some photos of some of the pottery that I did at the workshop this past weekend. I am not very pleased with any of it. I enjoyed the class and did learn some stuff but they misfired 2 of the 3 kilns and so messed up about half of everyone's work. Then, the presenting artist had 2 pieces blow up in the kilns and the shrapnel took out some more. I lost one bowl in a set of four to that.
I thought this set of bowls came out the best but, as I said, one of these was messed up by the fragments that fell into it during the firing. Oh well, I still have a set of three. Karl mentioned how my work might change or be influenced by moving into my house and I had never really thought of that before. I bet there will be some change though. I'm thinking that just the sheer joy of living there will bring a new liveliness to my work. I already feel it in me. I know it's just a house but it has been such a long time in coming for me. Everything has come together so well too with friends helping me and finding so much good material to use on the house. I do still get overwhelmed with what is left to do but overall I am so excited and everyday is fun, even at work. We have a blast there and the guys keep me encouraged.
A reader from Mobile asked if I dug my own clay that I use for the pottery or do I buy it. I buy it! There is no way that I would have the time or patience to dig my own. There are some good veins of clay in Alabama but those folk potters can have it. I buy mine from Highwater Clays in Asheville, NC. He also asked if I had contacted the local museum with my work. As a matter of fact, I had a little exhibit there for about 6 months. As far as I know, it did not get me any contacts or business. I also had a little exhibit at the local library for about a month. That did a little better as I think I had 2 or 3 people come over to my studio from there. Oh, and thanks Karen, for noticing my piece at the fair! Fred talked me into that one. I think I was the only entry in that category so that's how I won the big $7 prize! Hey, got me a sandwich on the way home from work so I'm not complaining.

The workshop we attended was in Smithville, TN at the Appalachian Center for Crafts and this was a really big lake nearby, not sure which one. It was a beautiful region but then again, most of Tennessee is very pretty to me.

A fairly dramatic change has occurred at the house today, I think. We started framing the entrance deck which will one day be the dogtrot or breezeway, when the other half is built. It is going to be very nice. I will try to post photos soon. My ceiling fans came but they are missing a part that is preventing me from hanging them. I could just choke someone. I have had more aggravation from those things. I bought the trim to run in the bedroom around the windows and might get to that tomorrow. We'll see. I am also trying to pick the final paint color for the living/dining room. Oh, now I'm starting to get overwhelmed again! See what you all have done! Ohhh, I need to go eat some chocolate I think. Yeah Pablo, we'll build your house but you got to keep us in chocolate.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Crazy Time

Hey Everybody! We are off to Tennessee for the weekend to attend a pottery workshop so I just wanted to make a quick post before we leave. Things have been nuts here for a few days with getting ready for this and work, etc etc. I appreciate the comments left on the most recent post and will answer them when I return, which should be Monday. Hope everyone has a good weekend also and hopefully I will have good stuff to share when we get back! I ordered my ceiling fans, again. Maybe this time it will take. See ya!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting Centered

Here are a couple of photos from the recent concrete pour we had at the house. This is right after we got the mud laid down and bull floated off. That is the initial smoothing out of the concrete. From here we got off of it for an hour or so to let it start setting up. After a while it gets to where it will support your weight but we use knee boards or just small pieces of plywood to step on in order to not make big foot prints in the concrete. You have to go around the edges and start troweling them smooth and then work the big areas.
Here Allen is running the troweling machine which is a wonderful invention but one that really requires some know-how in order to not screw the surface up. Allen has very little know-how and I have none at all when it comes to these things but we managed to get by OK. You have to go over the slab several times to get a very smooth surface. I did all the, down on your knees work. It doesn't seem like it to a lot of people but this is some of the hardest work out there. I know one finisher who is in his early 70's and still does a little work (finishing). I don't see how. He is one tough man.
We moved my basic pottery equipment down as soon as possible so that I could start throwing some stuff for that workshop coming up this weekend. I really felt good to just back into some clay and the weather was absolutely beautiful this past weekend. It was so peaceful and relaxing to be working down at the house. What I am doing in this photo is called centering and so part of the title to this post. Allen has been telling me for a while now that he doesn't feel, that I feel yet, that this house is my home. Did that make sense? And I have agreed. I guess I have been without a place to call home for so long that it still has not sunk in yet that this is my home. I have never, in my adult life, had a place that I was not renting or could call my home. But when I was throwing this weekend it suddenly felt like I was home. Everything felt centered.
We took my sign down from the downtown store and put it up at the house and that helped a lot. Now I just have to get all the rest of my stuff moved.
I tried to order my ceiling fans but the store said they were on back order until November so I canceled that order and ended up finding some I liked better at a better price elsewhere so I am going to try ordering them again! Still trying to get tile ordered or bought for the shower and pick out some kind of shower fixtures. Not much happening at the house otherwise. Oh, Allen did install the window in the bathroom. I'll have to show that soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just A Peek

The sun is just barely starting to return to the interior of the house. I noticed this strip of light for the first time this past Saturday morning and it had disappeared by noon. I think by November the sun will have moved back enough that it will be traveling straight down the house and therefore shedding light in all day. Now it is still at a bit of an angle and so gets over the house around noonish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Second Time Around, Part 2

Well, the pour went fine after all and now I have a great, slick concrete floor for my new studio! We had a little excitement at first though. I was not able to arrange a finisher so Allen assured me we could do it but we did have one laborer lined up to help place the concrete. He canceled at 7:30 in the morning so I had to scramble to find someone else. My work buddies came through for me and we got some help. Then the truck was a little late and when he pulled up to the house the transmission decided it didn't want to work so for a while he could only go backwards and that was not a good thing. The driver crawled under the truck and messed with some stuff and after a while it started working. It's always something. The rest of the pour was pretty much uneventful and I did get a few photos. I hurt so bad today from finishing that concrete though I was so happy when we got rained out! Of course, it was close to quitting time anyway, but hey! I'll take it. I don't know if there is enough money in this world that would make me want to finish concrete for a living; it is extremely hard and really takes a lot of skill. All the guys at work were glad to hear I got poured out finally.
These photos are from some work I did over the weekend. I have had to replace a couple of sections of sub-flooring in the house. It took me so long to get the house dried in that the floor got wet several times and a couple of pieces of plywood started to delaminate. We sprayed everything heavily with water seal but it didn't stop all of it. Maybe it helped some. I think I have a couple of floor joists with a more substantial crown to them than I previously noticed that contributed to these pieces becoming lumpy also. The new pieces were glued and screwed down well since they do not have the tongue and groove edge that the original decking has. It used 3/4" CDX for the patches. A lot of people want to use chip board or particle board (OSB) for their sub flooring and I will tell you; just bite the bullet and pay for the CDX. You will hate the other and will save yourself many heartaches by using real plywood. Same for your sheathing. We are going to try to start moving my pottery equipment this week to my new studio and setting up. I'll try to get photos soon. Oh! and I received my first UPS shipment to my home yesterday!! I'm a real person now!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Second Time Around

OK! We are set up to pour again Monday morning about 10:30 a.m. so keep your fingers crossed for me. I wish we could have gotten mud earlier but that was the best we could do; I just hope we have enough daylight to get a good slick finish on the slab. I could not arrange a finisher either so looks like me and Allen are going to be pulling double duty. I told him if he would run the troweling machine, I would be the one to get down on my knees and do the hand work. I was able to get everything back together and ready on Saturday so I had Sunday free to work on the inside. I mucked out all the soft stuff and put the plastic sheeting back down. You need to do this anytime you have a slab that is going to be in an enclosed area or you will have moisture wick it's way up through the slab and make the concrete sweat. That causes all kinds of problems. Always use at least 6 mil poly too for this. My rebar is laid out on a 2'x2' grid; all #4 bars. You could use that welded wire that has the 6"x6" grid but I had salvaged this rebar; it's easy to come by. You must put something in your slab though. What most people don't realize is that concrete is going to crack. I don't care what people tell you; it's going to crack and if there is not some kind of reinforcing in the slab, pieces can begin to float up or down and then you've got a mess.
This is the western edge of the slab that will one day (when the other half of the house is built) have a door here. There will be a block wall laid on this edge and since I don't have a footing for that, pouring this edge thick will take care of that. That is a 6" edge form there made of 2x4's ( the slab itself is 4") and we dug out from that form about 8-10" to form a horizontal flat area that slopes up to the normal 4". There are steel drive pins about every 4' behind the edge form to hold in but so much dirt washed behind it also, that thing ain't going anywhere.
We determined the top grade of the slab by measuring down off the bottom of the floor joints. The house is level (yea!) so this should give us a consistent measurement. We drove these rebar pins (at grade) about every 10 feet to give us something to screed to on the dirt bank side. On the concrete block side we just popped a chalk line.
I had to scrap in the rebar since it obviously was not made to order, so that means lots of filling in places and laps. Lap your rebar at least 16". I saved all of the drop from when Charles laid the concrete block and made all those cuts and that is what I am going to use to chair the rebar up with. Works great. Rocks work great too if you don't have anything else. The rebar should sit about in the center of the slab. It's best to leave the rebar laying on the ground and just have the little blocks nearby so you can roll a wheelbarrow over the steel, if you are going to have to do that and I think we will have to wheel just a little of this. The slab is just about 13'x 36' and 4" thick so that's about 5.75 yards of concrete. Hmmm, Allen said he just ordered 5 yards. Going to have to see what size he figured. Do you know how to figure concrete? It's not hard but you have to know how to convert inches to decimals for the slab thickness. Anyway, 5 yards is a piece of cake. The biggest pour I was ever on was only 700 yards. That's 70 full concrete trucks minimum. We worked 16 hours straight that day. Allen has poured upwards of 1,200 yards at one time, I think, when he worked on a cement factory.
There is something always kind of exciting about pouring concrete. On days of a big pour, most of the guys are always in a good, festive mood. I'm not sure why. It's almost like the same kind of excitement I feel when I am firing a big load of pottery. I think it's because you have spent all this time building these forms ( like giant molds) which can sometimes take weeks, and when you pour it's like you are casting your piece of art. We sometimes even have a special lunch or something if a big pour comes off well.
I'll try to have photos soon of the finished slab.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

She's No Lady

Any Lyle Lovett fans out there might recognize that title. This is my Grendal cat; I've not shown many photos of her. I don't know why she sits like that. Just kind of plops there like a big sack of flour or something. Allen has many names for her: Toxicat, Grendal the Hut, etc. You might guess he does not like cats a lot.
Not much happening at the house this week. I did go ceiling fan shopping yesterday and then ended up finding a better deal online so I will probably order my fans Saturday. I think I am going to try to pour that slab under the house next Tuesday. My boss said it would be OK to take off from work. I am going to try to stub in the shower this weekend also and maybe do a little more painting. Every little bit helps. Oh, and work on the water system. Ugh.
Speaking of work though, we just had to go through our yearly evaluations for raises this past week and one of the carpenters had a funny story. This was on another job, some time ago. So, our carpenter was walking up to the job trailer to meet with the super about his evaluation, when another carpenter comes out of the office and seems to be a little upset. Our guy asks the other what was wrong. The other carpenter says, " That son of a ***** gave me a '1' on part of my work"! ( we are scored 1-4 on various things). He went on to rant about several things and the unfairness of it all until our guy asked him in which of the categories was this '1'. "My damn attitude! Can you believe that!", the other one replied.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back On The Inside

With a little money back in my pocket I was able to afford to buy some material for the house since I need to start concentrating more on completing items that will get me moved into the house. So, I opted to get this wall at least closed up and partially finished. This is insulation that, as you might recall, I salvaged off a job last summer. All of the space above that horizontal top plate (2x4) is next to my attic and needed insulating against heat and cold. All the space below that (the actual wall area) I thought I would insulate against sound since I had the leftover insulation. I don't like the idea of standing in the kitchen and hearing the shower run or the toilet flush so maybe this will help. Also, it insulates the bedroom wall which may help some if someone is in there trying to sleep and someone else is up moving around.
We then completely sheathed the wall in 1/2" CDX. Let me stress, this is not finish! This wall will be covered once more in a thin but very nice grade plywood and stained. This finish layer will be run in a very defined, 4'x4' grid pattern so it was either place studs within the wall everywhere the edges of the finish plywood would fall or just put this under layer of plywood up and I could fasten over it anywhere. I think this was less trouble. Also, due to expense, it may be a while before I can afford the finish plywood and this allows me to close the wall up now. There is lots of plywood now everywhere and I'm not liking that much but I just keep telling myself most all of it will eventually cover up.
We also installed the smoke detectors; this is one in the bedroom with it's little shower cap on. You keep those on until construction is completely finished because dust can set these things off and it is really irritating. On the commercial jobs I work on they NEVER have these little covers and the detectors are forever going off until they allow us to tape plastic over them. We also finished filling in all of the water line trench. YEA!
I am having some issues with the house now that it is getting closer to the point that I could actually move in. The recent rains have resulted in a lot of runoff into the spring and really fouled the water system. I think part of this was my own fault for not having the water line trench filled in; the water ran straight to the spring. So, I must put up a silt fence in the next day or two for an immediate fix and then start work on a masonry wall of some sort around the spring to protect against future runoff. The problems with the water system are really bothering me. I have running water but half of the time I can't drink it. I have got to get all of this sorted out soon. How I am going to heat this winter is an issue also and something that must be resolved in the not so distant future. If I can just get the shower functioning, the porch built and the scaffolding out of the living room, I would be happier and I could actually move in. Sometimes it all seems so monumental and I only seem to be making baby steps. Of course, that's better than none at all, I guess.