Friday, March 14, 2014

The Day The Kiln Gods Were Merciful

Rebuilding the house after the fire took as long as building it in the first place! During the process, we made all sorts of little changes here and there. When I redesigned the kitchen, I decided to have a tile backsplash. And I moved the microwave to a different location so I could have a proper range hood. That left a really big available space above the stove for something special. I found some really interesting border tiles and fashioned a "frame" on the wall above the stove. That is where my tile guy started. He left the inside of this frame empty for artwork to be determined at a later date. And since my BFF Margot owns a company that manufactures fired glass color, I figured there would be some way to make something for that space. Now - we moved back into the house at the end of February - TWO years ago. I have been staring at that empty hole for two years people!! Several freeform attempts to make something for that frame failed miserably and I would go back to thinking about it. And you can't put just anything there! It has to match the kitchen aesthetic and is kind of permanent. At the least, it would be decidedly difficult and laborious to remove. And I wanted it to be my own design!! But what?? Then my daughter asked me to host a baby shower for her so she could invite her friends and family here. Nothing like planning a party to get the rear in gear! Finally, I came up with a design I thought would work and fit the style of the kitchen. The design would have to fit into two tiles as my kiln wasn't big enough for one complete piece. Not a problem - I will just do two firings. The glass I used came from a broken painting hanging in the family room that fell during the fire? I already had a nice stack of glass cut to size from that one big piece. I worked for two days getting all the color applied to the design and it was finally ready for the kiln. Did I mention the baby shower is in 10 days? My kiln is a small fiber one that sits on a shelf when not in use. I place it on the garage floor (nice & level surface) and plug it in. I put the first piece in and start the kiln. Sometime later, I run to the market. Coming back, I open the garage to pull in and notice the kiln is off - but there is NO LIGHT telling me it is complete! I go inside and my son is running the vacuum for me - only the canister in the garage isn't working. We've either blown a fuse or tripped a GFCI! Evidently, we have had a trifecta of power overuse. The combination of vacuum/kiln/garage door is all on the same line! Who knew?? We finally found the GFCI that had tripped and restored power but I couldn't turn the kiln back on because I had no idea where it was in the firing schedule. Nothing for it but let it cool down and see what was what. This in itself wouldn't have been a major disaster but I had two pieces to fire and they had to match! Did I mention the shower is in 10 days? No time to start over on this! I called Margot and told her what was going on. She talked me through the possibilities and options and wished me luck! It wasn't until I could open the kiln later that night that I knew I had at least one good piece. The colors were good and the edges were the best I had ever achieved! But could I get the second piece to match? I started the second piece before I went to bed and crossed my fingers & toes. The next morning, I held my breath as I opened the lid and pulled out the matching piece! Did a happy dance right then & there!!! Cleaned up the second piece and laid the two together and my design was complete. Installation is finally over and I have a complete kitchen!