Sunday 18 September 2022


Your friend the ceramist, who you regularly pester with n00b questions, has suggested making a plaster slab as part of your clay sculpture tool-set.

For this, you will need to make a frame to pour plaster in to set.

You remember that you have a bag-and-a-half of plaster of Paris. You go look for it, and in the finding, you spot the polystyrene sheets you stored away from the last house move, thinking you might have a use for them. That day has come, and with it vindication for your habit of not throwing stuff away you might one day find a use for. Jolly good, Jeeves.

You retrieve these, and also your long steel ruler and cutter. In doing so, you spot a bottle of glue you bought three years ago and haven’t used up. you shake the bottle to confirm that the glue has not dried. Praise be: it has not. You were going to merely assemble the pieces on this night, and go get glue tomorrow, but now you can finish the whole thing here and now, and it will be ready to use tomorrow. Hallelujah. The slight sleepiness you felt at a respectable time has also evaporated, which may or may not have something to do with the cup of tea you absent-mindedly drank not long ago. Never mind. Come, Watson, the game is afoot.

You look for paper to put under everything, to collect spills. Though you have not purchased a newspaper in two years and ten months, you find some. A modern-day miracle! Minus 10 points for bad housekeeping, plus 10 for project.

You assemble the materials. You cut the base, and then the strips for the sides. There is a flurry of polystyrene flakes, but you shrug philosophically; there are brooms in the house; there are dustpans; there is tomorrow. You will not be deterred at this glorious moment.

You place the parts together to check for fit, make minor adjustments. you swear as one of the side-walls disintegrates. Perhaps these sheets are too thin? Now is not the time for questions, Sancho. Onward and upward.

You cut another strip of polystyrene, and more snowflakes surge upwards. Never mind. Onward, Tenzing.

You shake the glue bottle again. You open the cap, upend the bottle. Nothing comes out.

Perhaps the nozzle has clogged. Maybe you could clean it out. Or maybe you could just give it a gentle squeeze. No one has won a battle they have not fought, troops. Carpe diem!

Seize the bottle. A gentle squeeze. No luck. In for a penny, and all that. More elbow, Rafael.

The bottle is clearly an Indian cricketer; it cannot take the pressure.

It disintegrates.

(A pause here to have you note that plastic crumbles past a certain point, and to urge you to curtail your use of this material for the sake of our planet.)

It disintegrates.

Glue, imprisoned 32 months, erupts, eager to fulfill its dharma and find things to stick together.

You are cross-legged on the floor. The glue, yielding to gravity, descends from mid-air, and falls. On your hand. On the inside of your knee. And the outside of your knee.. And your calf. And on the bit of exposed skin between lower hem of shorts and knee. And some between hem of shorts and thigh. And on the bit of floor between you and the newspaper you had spread out. And on the polystyrene pieces you had cut. And the cutter. And the steel ruler. And the cutting mat you had put aside after cutting the polystyrene.

Fuck, you say. That’s another fine mess you got me into, Stanley.

Fuck, you say, with more feeling. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. You channel Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck.

You take a deep breath. Never mind, Sundance. This glue comes off easy; remember how one would play with a similar glue in school, letting it dry and then peeling it off like dead skin to the delight of one’s classmates? (It was a boys’ school.) And the floor, well a wet rag will do the trick: it is a water-soluble glue, after all.

You feel the beginnings of an urge to pee, but you push it aside; there are things to be done first. You use one of the ice-cream sticks you have on hand for carving, armature-making and similar arty-crafty things to scoop up dollops of glue from leg, shorts, floor, cutting mat, ruler, remnants of bottle, and put the frame together. There is now glue on everything within a one-kilometre radius, so you say fuck it, throw the ice-cream stick aside, and just use your fingers. One leg is going to sleep, as its owner should have hours ago if he had any sense. You uncross your legs… calf and thigh are lightly stuck together… careful now… and cross them the other way. The glue now gets on to the other leg. Never mind. Everyfuckingthing is sticking to everyfuckingthing anyway. One of the fucking sides is too fucking long, so the fucking box will fucking warp. There is fucking glue on the fucking cutter anyway, so you use your gluey fucking hands to pick it up and trim it. Fucking snowstorm. And now it’s too fucking short. You cut another fucking strip from the big sheet. This works. But the other three fucking sides are fucking sagging a bit. You cut small squares of fucking polystyrene to use as reinforcement for the fucking joins. It sort of works. Language, Timothy.

You sigh, lean back. The other leg, you now discover, is lightly glued to both floor and its counterpart. You gently separate all of them. Good job, Batman.

You begin peeling off the ‘skin’ anticipating reliving the innocent joys of schoolboy years.

You did not have hair on your legs when you were a schoolboy.

You are preternaturally calm.

You pause to reconsider.

You now also really need to pee.

This is a dilemma.

You reconsider the pause.

You saunter to the loo, turn on the tap, hose down hands while doing Kegel exercises and then proceed to take care of urgent business, hoping that body parts thus far protected will not acquire adhesive coatings. Whew. All done. You flush.

Then you turn the tap on again, and wash off the glue from legs and shorts. You give thanks to what gods there may be for the fact of the glue being water-soluble.

You come out, muttering a few dark oaths, and are cheered by the fact that you can mix plaster of Paris powder and water tomorrow and make the slab.

With this frame you made as a mould. A frame held together by glue. A glue which is, as you have noted, water-soluble.





So, how was your night?

1 comment:

How do we know said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.