The days are blurring into each other, I don’t even remember how many days I have already been here. All I know is that it took 3 days to build a damn propane cage and that made me pissy! It has been tough picking up stick welding when I have only done it once or twice and making a precise “thing” with it. Things are moving along much smoother now.
I began working in Gordon’s cousin’s “factory,” or as us Yanks know it, “metal shop” on Monday June 16, 2008. There were three men doing all the building and one lady who acted as an administrator. Of course, I did not understand a word anyone was saying around me. The only way I could communicate was by hand gestures and relying on someone with a shred of English language knowledge to help me out.
For the first two days I was making horrible welds and finally I got off my silly thoughts that everyone in the workshop was amusing themselves by watching me flail and asked for some help from one of the resident welders. He showed me that I was not feeding the stick into the puddle enough and once I got that – BAM! I was back in action again. I am still not perfect, but I can manage to make it “stick.”
My assistant Cleo has been a great sport and a very loyal worker. She has been getting to the Dream Community earlier than her usual rising time, i.e. 8:40 to get to work by 9a. Poor thing! She had no idea what she was getting herself into when she volunteered to help me. Anyhow, she speaks very little English, but to prove her dedication to being the best assistant ever, I found her studying words that would be pertinent to our project, such as “hammer” and “tape measure.” I was totally touched by that.
It was really rough the first few days, because she had no idea what was going on and even less of an idea of what the heck I was going on about. She would turn to me with a lost look in her eyes and shrug her shoulders as if to say, “I don’t know what you are saying…” In fact, I was so excited to get things moving that I failed to see how important it was to delegate and press the necessity for more “helpers” and ended up spending a chunk of time struggling with something that I didn’t have to struggle with. But I did build a bad ass propane cage!! Now, the only thing left was to attach it to the flat bed and body of the truck. The flat bed is galvanized, so I figured I couldn’t weld to it since the propane cage is steel and the body of the truck is very thin sheet metal so it just kept burning through. I figured I could bolt the cage to the truck and the flat bed.
The next day, we hired a professional fabricator to come in and help me. He said that it would be no problem to weld to the flat bed!! He proceeded to stick weld steel to galvanized! I had no idea. He also said that it is no problem to stick weld stainless to regular steel!! This was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing.
So we welded the propane cage to the flat bed and began building the internal structure of the body. By the end of the day we had the structure built! We were ahead of schedule by one day. Yeayyy!
Next day we began building the body! I kept telling Cleo that up until now we had been doing the boring stuff, but the fun is just about to begin. She was very happy about that. By this time, Cleo was familiar with the chop saw, the horizontal saw,the grinder and a little bit of welding. She really likes the horizontal saw.
Atsan, the guy helping me build the sculpture is a contractor/fabricator that speaks no English and works in a factory making industrial parts. This is the first time he has worked with a woman and is making art, so naturally, he was very confused by what I was asking him to do. Our method of communication is the funniest. We both understand each other, so we communicate by hand gestures, numbers and pictures. Sometimes, specially when it is a challenging part of the sculpture, this gets to be difficult. Those are the times when I wish my Girls were with me…
After one week of building, working everyday, we have gotten the feet, legs and forearms done and Atsan is also getting my working style and what I am out to accomplish with the sculpture. Also after one week of building, we had to relocate, because it was too damn hot working under a tent in front of the factory and we were disrupting the work flow of the guys working there (sound familiar Swarming Locust Girls?). So, we moved back to the workshop in the Dream Community and so far so good, we have tripped the breaker only one time.