Friday, May 4, 2012

Artesian Well Mosaic installation day 2

I returned to the well yesterday with renewed enthusiasm and a thick, wool coat, hat and hooded rain slicker.  It was pouring rain, but at least I was warm to the core.  I assembled a tarp over my work space, unwrapped the post I'm working on, and got started.

Lisandro came down to help, and it was very nice to have two of us digging out yesterday's thinset, making the work faster and less tedious.  Here is a photo of the thinset squished up between tesserae:
The flat spots are where it pushed against the tile tape that held the fish together until they could be set into mortar.
Here is Lisandro, scraping away at thinset with one of my carving tools:
Luckily, the thinset came out very easily.  The gloves were a good idea.  I realized that scraping thinset is just going to be how I start each work day until this is over.  Since the tess are all different sizes, some with slight curvature, in order to ensure full adhesion, I have to put the mortar on in a thick bed, and it is going to squish through.
So, here is the first fish with thinset carved out, so that grout can be applied later.  Ain't it cute?
The rain was incessant yesterday.  Poor Lisandro was soaked and left after lunch to avoid being miserable and getting sick (smart.)  Thanks to our friend Tara, who went to meet Anouk getting home from school, I was able to work until 3pm.  Since the rain blew in at an angle, I worked under the kiosk, on the surface facing the camera.  An overhang and the tarp kept that spot dry, but I had to dry each piece with a towel before putting it into thinset, and rain was getting into everything.  It was a slippery mess.  (But at least my thinset wasn't setting up super fast like the previous day.)

With a brimmed hat and big hood on my head, every single time I went to stand up, I forgot about the metal bar over my head.  Whack!
Furthermore, several times, I walked right into the door of my wagon when I went to get supplies.  I felt like an idiot, and I have multiple bumps on my head today.

Today, a mosaic artist from Oregon is driving up to assist me.  It is pouring rain again, so I'm taking my big canopy.  I find that having an assistant really makes the work go faster, plus it helps to have a buffer from the public.  Most of the steady flow of people filling containers are perfectly sane and sober, offering a jaunty "Good Job!"  or whatever friendly encouragement comes to mind.  But there are also a lot of colorful characters, staggering and slurring, announcing, "I'm here to help with the mosaic!"  When I try to explain that we are all set, thanks, they are offended and either tell me about their bid for City Council or attempt to ride off on their bike in a huff, only to have a shoe come off, fall on the concrete, and complain that I'm not helping.

So, I very much welcome company, if only to explain the project to everyone and help me keep on task.  With only a few hours each day to make progress, every conversation sets me back.  I wouldn't say no to a soy latte, either.

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