Cynthia’s Glass Bead Making Studio ~ Part 3

In Part 2, I had just completed pouring the concrete workbench in Cynthia’s new Glass Bead Making Studio. Since then the concrete has cured and I have installed the window, made and installed the door, and built a ventilation system (I always want to misspell the word ventilation as ventillation. But now I remember that one of the Ls got sucked out by the fan…). I also disassembled her very rusty electric kiln, repainted it with a high-temp paint (her choice of color), and reassembled it.

Here is a photo of the door. I made it by welding a 2″x2″ square metal tubing frame and insetting (spot welding) a panel from a piece of scrap shipping container siding. I sealed the panel to the frame with my favorite goo, windshield urethane adhesive. It will be painted the house color. We will use this same design for the security doors inside the house. These doors are strong. Damn strong:

After all that was complete it was move-in time, so she and I took a day and moved her out of her old critter-infested studio in the kiosko by the road at our rental house. She considered it more like a mercy evacuation and was quite delighted. Here is her new studio with just a bit more organizing to be done; you can see the window, exhaust, her torch, kiln, and glass storage rack:

Sorry, there is so much going on that the camera didn’t know what to focus on!

I built her glass rod storage rack a couple years ago. Each tube stores a particular glass rod and she has already outgrown it. So I welded a couple carriolas under the existing tubes and will fabricate about 75 more PVC tubes for more storage.

I still need to fabricate and install trim at the ceiling, but that will have to wait until my bending brake is completed.

In other news, Cynthia came with a package deal of two cats, Harry and Bob. Cynthia will do anything for her cats or anyone else’s for that matter. Here is a photo of her in Colorado, rescuing a neighbor’s cat from a tree:

I raised the ladder for her, but Cynthia insisted on retrieving the kitten herself.

Here are Harry and Bob:

I’m Harry. I like to pose.

And I’m Bob.

Bob is a real action figure, a real party animal. Cynthia took this photo back in Colorado.

One night Bob (short for Bob Bob) went out the cat door. He and Harry are usually back by curfew but during the night I noticed that I was sleeping better, as Bob usually announces every hour on the hour, punctuating the quiet night air with typical Siamese chit-chat “meow-meow.” Just enough to wake me, oh joy, although Cynthia usually sleeps through it.

In the morning I got up early and went looking for Bob. He was no where to be found. I alerted Cynthia and she began calling him with her high-pitched, “Bob Bob Bob Bob Bob Bob.” He usually comes running, just like a dog, but this time he didn’t. We canvassed the yard to no avail.

The day passed with re-calling and re-searching, but still no Bob. Days and nights passed and the grieving of the possible end of a twelve-year relationship began. Harry wouldn’t eat and Cynthia was frantic.

At day nine we had come to terms with reality. Usually in the tropics a dead animal will quickly bring the circling vultures, but not in this case. So we invented the story that Bob had been taken by a snake, probably a boa, because no body was found.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while, and this is the reason. Our household was just in too much turmoil.

But then on the morning of day ten, just as I finished my breakfast oatmeal, I received a call (in Spanish) from our neighbor’s housekeeper. She reported to me that the gardener had seen a black cat duck into a culvert under a side road by their house. Cynthia wasn’t dressed yet, but I was and was at the house a few minutes later.

The gardener was waiting for me, sitting on a rock by the culvert. He gestured to the twelve-inch culvert. I got down in the mud and cautiously poked my head around the pipe. Sure enough, I could see Bob in silhouette, crouched about mid-pipe. I called, he meowed. I called, he meowed. I called, he meowed. It took the better part of fifteen-minutes before he felt safe enough to emerge from his neighborhood-dog-proof hideout.

I gathered the unpleasantly-fragranced beast up in my arms and brought him home to Cynthia. Tears flowed, and Bob had a lot of explaining to do.

Our household is again back to normal. Cynthia is overjoyed, Harry is eating again as fussily as ever, and I am really happy that our tale of the boa wasn’t true.

And Bob is again going outside, but not venturing far from home.

Bonus Photo: Here’s a photo I took from the roadside scenic overlook, overlooking the town of El Valle down in the volcanic crater. The time is shortly after sunrise. The sun is beginning to stream down into the crater and is burning off the wispy cloud cover. This area of Panama has such a primal feel:

Overlooking the town of El Valle, Panama, just after sunrise. It is a pretty view at night too, with all the lights of town in the volcanic crater below.

That’s all for now. More soon.


Cynthia’s Glass Studio ~ Part 2

I know, it has been a while since I posted a new entry. We have had a lot of afternoon rain that has shortened the work day. Our routine is to work as long as we can, then take a siesta while the rain pours down. The rain can be very conducive to a good nap especially if you are warm and dry. Here’s Cyn all wrapped up in a reflective bubble wrap, ready for a long winter’s nap:

The last time I posted, I had completed most of the exterior walls of Cynthia’s Glass Bead Making Studio. Now, I move inside to put up the interior walls, ceiling, install electrical, and build a bench and shelf.

We put sheets of the reflective bubble wrap under the sheet metal on the ceiling and the west wall. Although thin, this insulation packs a radiant punch, reflecting the heat back into space. Here I have the door wall installed, the interior metal up, and the bench framed. I welded the corners of the carriolas for the bench:

In the next photo, I am making the form work for the concrete workbench. Cynthia requested concrete because she will be working with a torch and hot glass and doesn’t want to burn down the farm. I supported scraps of metal roofing in the lips of the carriolas and cut rebar to stiffen the concrete:

To hold the metal carriola to the concrete wall, I shot nails through the carriola with the Remington powder-actuated nailer. The nailer uses a .22 caliber blank cartridge to fire a nail through the metal and into the concrete. You can see the little orange dots in the carriolas. At the corrugated metal walls, I pop riveted the carriolas to the walls. 

Next, I poured concrete in the form work and built a shelf. For the shelf, I used 1-1/2″ angle iron, then cut pieces of Plycem (cement board) and dropped them into the angle iron framework. I’ll run a bead of caulk around the edges of the Plycem. Also, you can see that I still need some metal trim at the ceiling line. (Spoiler alert: I sure wish I had a metal bending brake to make this trim…) The bench is 100% level, but looks crooked in the photo because of camera optic delusion:

A few days after pouring the concrete, I polished it by working my way through 6 different grits of diamond pads mounted on the wet angle grinder, then sealed the concrete with a clear polymer. Now the bench is really smooth. The polymer retards the drying of the concrete, thereby making it stronger. Until the sealed concrete cures, it is acting like one of those ceramic crock pots that you keep wet to make a rudimentary refrigerator, so condensation forms on the top of the bench.

Left on the to-do list is the window, door, and ventilation system to remove the toxic gases from the torch and the silver fumes from the glass. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Cynthia took some of the sunny moments and finished painting the front gate. We chose gloss black, which will be the same for the security bars on the house. We think the gate stands out nicely:

In other news, we have a lot of little flying black elbow-biters, no-see-ums that bite and leave a very itchy red dot. I found a video on YouTube on how to make a mosquito trap. Cynthia has made a bunch of these and they work just swell. They give off carbon dioxide, which attracts the bugs, and it smells like bread baking. It is all somewhat gruesome, but we have caused the demise of thousands of these little buggers, and now it is a lot nicer to hang out in chairs under the carport roof. Here’s a picture of one of the traps:

To make the trap, cut the top few inches off of a 2-liter soda or water bottle. Put a third of a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of yeast in the bottle. Pour about two cups of water over the sugar/yeast. Mix it a bit. Take the cutoff bottle top, invert it, and stuff it into the bottle. Done. The traps last about three weeks to a month. After that, wash them out and start again. Now we take perverse pleasure as the bugs enter the bottle and can’t get out. Sorry Universe, but this is what we have to do.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.