August is National Tile Month, at least as far as our project is concerned!
After several weeks of searching for a truly-professional tile installer, we succeeded and hired Hanibal. We know Hanibal. His daughter Yamileth cleaned our house for quite some time when we were in our last rental. Fortunately, he had just completed a four-month job at a new beach resort. He came by to look at the job on a Saturday and agreed to work for us starting on the next Tuesday. Perfect!
Hanibal agreed to let me be his helper. He laid the tile and I cut all the odd pieces. I also made sure that he had a ready supply of tile, tile spacers, clean water and sponge, and all the tools he needed at his finger tips. I’m a good helper; my first job working for a carpenter when I was fourteen was good training. My boss told me to watch him and try to figure out what he was going to do next. For example, if he measured a board, the next thing he was likely to do was to mark a square line at the mark. I was to hand him the framing square. Next he would need the hand saw, and etc. Anyway, the only thing that I don’t do for Hanibal is to mix the mortar as he is very particular as to how much water is in the mix. I’ve seen him add just a few more drops of water to make the mix just right.
We started on the wall by the staircase. Cynthia and I chose a natural tile that brings a lot of warmth into the living room. Here are some pictures of the process of tiling this wall. It took us a little bit more than two days to complete the wall:
Our next project was to tile the balance of the kitchen floor. In the next photo you can see that months ago I left off at the stove island and the microwave:
Hanibal said that the floor was not quite level and he wanted to make it level so that the tiles would lay nice and flat. He drove nails into the floor at various places and we strung strings. The taut strings showed places where there were dips in the floor. In the next photo you can see the strings. Hanibal is in the process of rolling a bonding agent onto the floor:
The bonding agent is all spread and is drying:
Next he put daubs of mortar (equal parts sand and cement) at various places under the strings:
Then, using more mortar and long boards as straight edges, he connected the dots, thereby making the floor flat and true:
We spent a day with this floor-truing process, well worth the time, effort, and money. Here is our tile-laying progress at the end of the first day of tiling:
By the end of day two of tiling (next photo), we were nearly to the west wall of the kitchen. All the white thingys are spacers to keep the grout lines accurately spaced. I was truly impressed with his quality of work. So many of the local “tile men” won’t use the spacers and end up in trouble when they reach the far wall. Notice that we had to use a plank as a bridge to keep from walking on the freshly-set tiles:
So this is as far as we have progressed as of this blog entry.
In other news, while I was searching for a tile guy, I took some time to attend to some details in the kitchen. The ends of the ceiling beams were quite crude looking where we had welded angle iron to attach the beams to the container walls:
I used several tubes of urethane caulk, smoothing the caulk with a wet finger. Then I touched up all the white paint. I also painted the window frames a warm red that Cynthia had chosen:
Cynthia wanted to make glass lamp shades for the kitchen lights that will hang from the beams. She started with regular window glass. She sprinkled and spread granulated glass (called “frit”), onto the window glass. At this stage of the process, much of the frit is white, but it will change color (called “striking”) when fused in the kiln. This is her first foray into fusing and slumping projects:
After nearly 24-hours firing and cooling in the kiln, the colors develop, in this case reds and orang-y-reds.:
Now that the clear, flat panes of glass are colored and fired, she will put each one back into the kiln on top of a stainless-steel form. In the heat, the glass will drape over the form, thereby creating a glass lamp shade.
While she waited for the firings, she got engrossed in an eBook on our tablet, An Echo In The Bone in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series:
Moving on, Armando moved the 15 spider plants up to the roof deck:
He also planted a row of Cola de Camerones (shrimp tails) along the driveway. They add a nice splash of yellow:
We know to look in our shoes for scorpions, but now we have discovered that we have to look in our shower scrubbies for … frogs! Still using the outside bathroom, in the shower I was about to scrub my pits when I spotted this little one:
And finally, we got to put our feet up for a weekend. Jackie Lange, from Panama Relocation Tours, invited us to the nearby Sheraton Bijao (pronounced Bee-how) resort for a weekend if we would talk to her tour group about what it is like to live in Panama. Thanks very much Jackie, we had a great time:
And lastly, has anyone noticed that as of today my blog is only a few thousand page views away from a million? Who’d a thunk it?
That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.