Monthly Archives: May 2014

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This patina took two full days. A day for creating a new solution for holding this set to the table so it can fit out the shop more easily, then sandblast, and chemical etching applied and scrubbed out. Today was color. This method takes a lot of time and chemical mix- I’ll need to buy more Cupric Nitrate for the last group. They still need spots and eyes brought back to bronze, waxed, and the poles polished. The triple school is next. They will also need a new solution to affix to the table as it is a full foot taller. I will weld up a little platform below the level of the table just high enough not to drag on the ground when going over the gap btwn the garage and the driveway. The logistics of working large really slow things down…


We arrived with the first warm weather (i.e. not snowing and freezing at night). The lilacs are still weeks away from bloom.


What’s wrong with this picture? Why is the toilet tank lid on the table? Where is the faucet for the sink? Why is there cardboard on the floor? Answer: I hired a plumber who converted everything to PEX pipe, and in doing so demonstrated the ranch law of unintended reciprocal breakage of critical items for any improvement.


Essential Man Pow-Wow with Bow-Wow. Plumber is gone and toilet is still dead (not my job). A feller could head to town and rent an industrial snake. So a feller did.


Bath is taken apart again, and beat with a snake till the walls need repainting and the floor needs refished; in the end the line was cleared 30 feet out into the yard.


Floor is sanded, room is vacumed and wiped down, walls repainted, then floor urethaned, sanded and re-urethaned. This all means staying friendly with the shovel and the hills behind the house for another day.


The Roto-saurus left whip marks on the walls as it would uncoil explosively back into the room. I had to re-thread the bolts for toilet flange after bending them back upright.


I ran hot water in the tub to help lube the system, and discovered that the head pressure for the heater is less than its drop pressure. This resulted in solving the mystery of why the tank’s heating element burns out so often. The solution has been discovered by an old Mr. Fixit working in the Great Falls ACE Hardware. It will be a science project.


The shop-vac and the orbital palm sander were from the same long ago art commission. The shop-vac is still kicking, but the orbital sander died in the line of duty. I pulled my old square sander out of retirement (luckily some of my out-to-pasture tools have made it to the ranch) and it did its best. Operating an old tool which is half the tool of a tool that dies in service can make a fellah feel old.


The battle of the commode was hard fought, and settling the environmental damage is part of the battle.


That can of Kilz has traveled 1800 miles to be a part of the triage.


A great battle was fought on this field. Danger takes a quiet moment of reflection on this Memorial Day weekend.


A fitting headstone for the rotosaurus, and a sign that visits to the hills bearing a lone shovel will be no longer.


Xandar claims the only quiet (and finished) room in the house. Plus, it has a heater.


Elizabeth and I tag-team on lawn mowing, finishing just in time for thunder and rain.


Stanley oversees the connection of the old stone footpath to the bridge.


Stanley, as foreman, is not as easily pleased as the laborer.


The new stones found their way from hillside washes into the pickup on the way up the road from returning the Roto-saurus.


This little job was a nice break from the frustrations of push-back from the cranky old house.




Under the fridge and the stove still needed a first layer of sealant, and 17 holes to nowhere filled under the stove ( four holes for the fridge).


Fridge footprint.


Four dowels to fill holes near the fridge.


Oven footprint covering 17 holes.


Holes doweled with glue and hammered or cut to flush with the floor.


Living room. Torn wood from last summer’s floor sanding needs wood filler. Store only has light colors, so after filling and sanding it will all need staining.


The orbital sander will finally die on this battle field.


You can’t try to be the World Police for all the issues of the floor, so Strategery is applied. Some conflicted areas can seem a proper place for your resources, but really any intervention there will only lead to greater conflict.


Minutaie v the long view.


Aftermath of sanding. The orbital sander is still with us, the shop vac is essential too.


Stain application for wood filler, as well as places the big floor sander wore down to bright wood.



Elizabeth sent me to bed and stayed up til 3am scrubbing with denatured alcohol and steel wool to remove the pervasive layer of blackened old finish. She lamented her hands, now turned to crone claws.


The room is vast and E is very very tiny. But persistent.


Do I look fat in these pants?


Danger struggles to mouth read a big word: Carcinogenic.


Zillions of hours of prep work is finished, starting way back last summer; battle gear is donned. Time to end it with a new beginning.


Stanley guards Xandar outside where things are safe for critters.


E assists by keeping the finish at my elbow and picking last minute specks from the floor.


Next time we come up we’ll have to deal with the footprint of the couch. never. quite. done.


The orbital sander died before prepping the kitchen, so it was up the retired square-sander to prep for this second thick layer.


I hope we didn’t forget anything in there…it takes 14 days to cure.


This may be better than having the house fumigated. Can you see the fumes?


Part of turning off the water is draining the line with hose that reaches far enough down the hill to siphon out the water tank.


Electricity is shut off, and water is off. Headlamp is on for the last trip into the basement.


Elizabeth takes this shot while contemplating shutting the door and rolling something heavy over it. Just a flash of an idea I’m sure…


Truck is loaded and ready to become slathered in 600 miles of insect splatter.


The rest is dedicated to our pretty yard in Salt Lake City, looking bright and cheerful the morning after getting home oh so late.










I finally gave up on being a dumbass and just went at patina like a boss. Instead of the hired hand I have been up till now. It reminds of my favorite George Carlin book title “I gave up and lost hope and it worked.”


Flower details in chocolate and copper.


Now that I’m through the most dangerous turn of the learning curve of the new patina, perhaps I can focus on getting out of second gear.


Sandblast tent. I’m in there with a pair of trout. The sandblast needed filled three times. It took about two hours, then two hours to spray it with BC20 for a black etching layer and heat it then scrub it all back.


E calls this my Dexter Room, when really I’m just seeing how much sand I can pack into the backs of my eyeballs.


After two hours of scrubbing back the etching layer of BC20, I can start in with heat and cupric nitrate; if you look closely you can see I have the torch in one hand and the spray gun in the other. I haven’t lit the dog on fire yet.


I thought I’d try hand application of ferric on the hoops for some contrast.


The blue of the first two single fish started in a bit, then dropped back to a dark green. I’m pretty convinced it is about getting the metal hot enough to fume the tincture without scorching it with the torch. This double monster is tough to get perfectly hot.


A bit of hand stippling.


Fussing about. The odd thing with patina is that you don’t know what the color is until the very last step of waxing it, which locks everything in. So I am working with potentials here.


Just look at those Iris back there, and ignore the art nerd.


Getting greener…


The ferric on the stones gives them a nice brown-gold tone.


Around and around we go, heating not to scorch and never quite getting hot enough for magic blue.


Flame to the tippy top.


The stream hoops have flower details on the inside and outside.


The hand stippling of ferric set the flowers to a rich gold on a chocolate background- or will be tomorrow when I grow a brain and go about making it all work.


Patination is a mix of chemicals added cold and scrubbed off, and other layers of different chemicals added hot and oxidized with water. This is a hot layer- don’t burn it! Ruins it quick if you do.


I’m using a new patina recipe and a new air brush. I’ve always used squirt bottles before; what a dink. Dink-man also dinked his arm over the weekend and had to wait for a few days into the week to begin all this action.


I’m just spraying water to oxidize the cupric, otherwise I would have a respirator on. In the garage you can see my sandblast sprayer and plastic room.


Evaporating water with the torch catalyzes a quicker reaction.


Hand stippling on a finish layer to brighten up.


The heat gun keeps me from burning the patina as I set hand stippling.


Air dry, then a coat of soluvar and it sits overnight to let the patina mature. Next I lay it in the sun till the colors even out and it is good and warm, then I rub a layer of wax over it, let it cool, and buff it out. I won’t know if the patina worked out until then, and if it is a “miss” then I have to redo the entire process, starting from sandblast. And there is no guarantee it would come out better, and many chances for it to come out worse. That is why a master patinist is the prize of a good foundry.


Then it was off to the plant sale for walkable Thyme and we redid this section of the garden path by the sun room. And lots of other yarding- a good sanity break from fishy business.


This is my second fish working with this new patina. Not pictured is the third, as it came out a traditional Old World Green which I have been pushing toward blue. The third may not have gone blue because the day was overcast, warm and humid. Really. Or I may have altered the chemicals somehow or varied the torch heat by too low of temperature in trying not to scald the cupric. I worried all evening that it may need to be sandblasted and done again. After putting it in the hot Utah sun till baking hot I applied the wax coat and it looked great. Different from the others, but more like the recipe intends. (no pictures) This lets me know that I need to really work some magic to maintain the amazing blue tone.


This is the other side of the fish. Convex to concave disperses heat and moisture differently, and the colors really show the physics.


Nice gradations from transparent gold/green of bronze to opaque blue/green. And some white stippling for the underbelly that will fade in over time.


Trout is singing about his pretty patina, or that’s what Stanley tells me.

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All the technical work is finally done. All fish and hoops are welded/chased and grouped and standing on poles. Next I choose one of the single fish-on-a-stick, give it a last careful check-up and tweak any little things- then it is time for sandblast and patina. I usually set up the trusty canvas tent for sandblast, but these are so big that I need to build a large plastic enclosed space flown from a wooden framework that I’ll attach to the big trestle beam that the hoists fly from. This will be part of tomorrow’s doings. Then it gets rainy all week, which might set the patina back til things dry out. Utah rain rarely settles in for long, so if I work between the rain drops I should be able to keep things moving along.


These were welded out on Friday and sat through the weekend. They were chased out and standing by noon Monday.


The long triple spawn is hoisted to position sideways awaiting poles to be fit and welded in place.


With one side done, they are flipped over and welding is completed and chasing finished out.


The shop is brimming with trout. This last group is now set on wheeled platforms so I can move it out of the way for sandblasting all the others first.