The Powder Kegs band came to visit last week. Their guest musician, Robert Blake, kindly assisted me in an emergency situation: I could not mix the concrete fast enough. And the hoses are drained for winter. He fetched water and threw a shovel around with me until the hearth form was all poured in. Next time I’ll use more water than the directions call for. But maybe not as much as we added. Again, I am tickled by concrete– what a material.
Another day passed while waiting for stones and insulation. I’ve been working ahead on other elements despite these frustrations. The brick dome needs to be built around a solid form. I am using sand. But the sand must be shaped appropriately (shaped, in fact, just as the bricks will be shaped). So I spent several hours making a negative for a negative, meaning I made a positive. The nifty device, as envisioned for me by Michael O’Malley, enables a 2D stencil to fully rotate, cutting out a 3D shape.
You can see the stone is taking forever. I felt like taking a picture after every course was laid, which takes at least an hour. Sara and Allie have been working with me, and each of us has felt defeated at one time or another by the challenge. I’ve quickly learned some tricks to help quicken the process. When I started I was searching for the right stone for a spot. Now I look more often for the right spot for a stone. I’m also getting to know the stones, individually. When I see some real estate open up, I skim my memory of the candidates, and can often recall a particular stone to match the location. When nothing fits, everything is outrageous. But when one slips into place, and you form a beautiful, strong joint, it is a great accomplishment, and you better hope there is a good dance song playing!
Even though I never want to leave this mystical place, tomorrow I am heading down to the city to catch a flight to go bike riding with some ex-Navy SEALS through the gulf coast states. Provided I resist the urge to follow in their footsteps by enlisting, I plan to be back the second week of November to build with brick. I have my fingers crossed for a mild month of fall weather.