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Mansfield 6″ (9 inches in actual length) Stem. Protean plumbing bit that you might try to fix, which doesn’t make it worse about 20% of the time- so the plumbing shop pro told me. I was in the 80%.

This little wand of black magic set a tour of plumbing shops in motion. All shops have been out for 10 weeks, always just having sold their last one- but offering that I try this little parts replacement kit that we don’t have, but that the shop all the way across town does show having two. The old plumber-pro tells me that 80% of the time the new parts will just make the leak worse (the little gods of home plumbing are hungry and needful)- and though I did stop the leak at the vacuum manifold the plumber-pro’s advise proved out with a worse leak. Today I made my weekly (bi-weekly?) call-around for the part again; the nearest shop has quit carrying this brand and paid the manufacturer to ship all their stock back, and the shop across town has two left. By the time I get there they have one left. Upon switching it out I take care to make the incantation and blood sacrifice before closing the water off, and again after installation, and again prior to turning the water back on: the magics governing water were pleased at last.

Snow at last! Yesterday the descending cold front pulled 80 degree air from the southern deserts slamming us with 70mph winds and the sky turned dark yellow with hazard warning levels of dust (nearly 300ppm vs the 35ppm safe level)- so dirty it was like a mist in the neighborhood. The airport was shut down as the cold front rolled over the valley, and the winds went haywire. It was snowing by 5pm, but nothing stuck till around 6am. The mountains have seen nearly 2 feet, and the foothills are blanketed in 5 inches- so our snowless winter has at last caught a break with the snowiest April 15 on record. Just 10 more record breaking storms lined up every other day for the next month is all it would take to bring the 200 inches of snow we need for a normal snow year.

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Stanley prances with snow on his nose.

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sugar coated blossoms. eat them while cold.

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glamming up

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Any snow is good snow, even more so when it’s the only snow.

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Crocus in full bloom. Daytime temps are 20 degrees above normal, and nighttime lows well above freezing.

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The Lilacs have begun to leaf out, two months early.

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The Daffodils will bloom soon. I’ve been doing yard work, and all the worms are busy in the frost-free soil.

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Tulips and Hyacinths will be bloomed out before the end of the month.

Realize that Alaska is having the same weather. Record high temperatures in the mid 60’s, temp. average at 29.6 degrees (the same as Philadelphia). Snow gone from mountain watersheds, just bare and dry. The jet stream nearly loops creating a vast high pressure system from CA all the way to AK, and inland to the Continental Divide. This is the projected new normal as the arctic warms and superchilled air no longer is bound to the poles, but drops south and east of the Divide creating the 10 feet of snow dumped on the North East, and the West dries in an intensifying feedback loop of desertification. Lack of snowpack in the mountains can’t be made up by spring showers, besides, the May flowers came and went in February.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Evaporating water with the torch catalyzes a quicker reaction.

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Hand stippling on a finish layer to brighten up.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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The fish have been awaiting their new hoist so they could float at perfectly level and sideways. I’ve been kicking around some ideas on how best to set the poles, and with the big ideas in place it was just tinkering and re-do’s till it worked. Tinker days require a slower pace, so I cleaned the shop and set the triple fish on a rolling platform and cinched them down while I let the pot simmer. Once the space was fully transitioned it all started to gel. I was stymied with one hoist, as there was just too much floppy fishiness to deal with: just about as the new hoist finally arrived- good timing. The second hoist can spin the sculpture and fine tuning can happen with a little up or down from either hoist. Then it was just noticing how well the ladder would work as a leg of a platform for the pipe and more this and that and it is all ready for me to cut and fit the pole for welding.

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Establishing Level & Vertical for each hoop.

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Two pulleys bring level to horizontal, and horizontal to level. Ladder and box hold the pole in line.

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The trout are patient with all this linear thinking.

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Trout swim nervously around the shop as their cousins are set up for poles.