Monday, November 23, 2015

This Old Horse

"How was your bronze pour Saturday?" I was asked this morning.

"I had so much fun!" I replied, "It was just one problem after another!" That was not sarcasm. I really did have a lot of fun solving problems.

The reason, of course, that it was so much fun was because I adapted, improvised, overcame.  Not to brag, but I was the horse that knew the way to carry the sleigh. Actually, you know what? I'm gonna brag.

I was a fucking stud Saturday. I was big swinging-dick stallion Saturday. Was? Am!

Horse or jackass? You decide.
First off, we had that big snowstorm, which got us off to a late start. We were forecast to get eight to twelve inches of heart attack snow Friday night and Saturday. I lost maybe ten minutes of sleep worrying about that. Got up to pee at 3am, looked out the window, saw that the snow was not sticking to the roads and said, "Okay no problems".

We were scheduled to start at 9am, and some people didn't make until 11am, but I got us going around 10. I had people calling all morning asking if the bronze pour was still on, and I said yeah get your ass in here!

Pantomime Horse Testicles... I guess
A video crew hired by marketing arm of Continuing Education came in to film us and do interviews. I had them interview my students and me while the first heat was getting up to temperature. I was fed questions, but still was very conscious of trying not to be a dork.

I know some people are very suave and polished in front of a camera, and I do well in public speaking situations, but there is something about cameras and tape recorders that gets me tangled up in my thoughts and all stumbly in presentation. Hopefully, that comes across as charming as opposed to dorky, and I'll find out in a month when they post the video on the Harper website.

So, and then our lance pyrometer (the digital device you stick in the molten metal to gauge the temperature) decided to crap out. I announced to the class that we were going Old Skool and I would pour based upon the color of the metal. (You really can't tell what temperature it is with any degree of accuracy what the metal temperature is, but you want to see yellow-white hot color). What that meant is if I had to squint to look at the metal, it was probably ready. What that meant in actuality was we were going to pour the molds way too hot, and there was a good chance of a lot of gas porosity defects in the pieces.

Gift from a student I found this morning
Lastly, there were a few spills taking crucibles out of one furnace, and the spilled metal caused the base block to float. And thus the crucible kept leaning over and resting on the side of the furnace. The first time I saw it I said what the fuck some dumbass student didn't put the crucible back correctly, and I repositioned it. The next time, and it is leaning over again, I look down at the bottom of the furnace and notice a beautiful sea of quicksilver down there, with the base block and crucible kind of swimming around in it.

Well, this will not do, so when they go to pour that heat, I grab a scoop, go in and scoop out the bottom, slap it up against a wall, go in for another four or five times to get the level of the spilled metal down. My leather welding glove caught fire, and people are jostling me to notice that my hand is on fire, and I'm getting with them saying "I know! I know! Get the fuck away from me!". Finally get that done and heave the flaming glove off my hand before I'm burned.

So, that's taken care of. And then the rest of the day was just the normal broken molds or spilled metal through cracks in molds. We got a 100% survival rate.

In retrospect, I'm kind of amazed at my own somatic behavior when it comes to all this. If a mold cracked, people would freak and stop pouring and I would yell at them to continue, and just jam a scoop of sand up against the leak, and do it without even thinking about it. It's all a reflex action now.

And, as stumbly and dorky as I usually am (despite being pretty athletic all told), and as skittish a group of colts I had working the pour, I was beautiful and flaming dance we did. Seriously, I was fucking graceful. It's just all muscle memory now. It really, thinking about it, is amazing how no thought, zero thought, was involved in my movements and decision making. It just happened, and it was a beautiful thing.

1 comment:

  1. the very first time we taught a pate de verre workshop, everything that could go wrong, did. it was a great learning experience for the students though as they not only learned the process but how to deal with things when they go wrong.