Friday’s Weekend Column
Working in a New Town

by James Glaser
October 28, 2005

It is hard starting work in a new town. Up north, I knew where everything was, and I knew where the best prices were. Down here in Tallahassee, I am still trying to find "my" hardware store and "my" lumber company.

In Northome, I could go to Skoe's lumber yard and I knew where everything was. I would back my truck up to one building for plywood and to a different one for pine boards. Down here I am still trying to find a yard that has everything I want.

Up north I was constantly driving to town to get something or other. Down here everything is farther away and I have to drive through heavy traffic to get to it. No longer am I looking out for deer, here I'm looking out for other drivers and stop lights. Northome didn't have a stop light.

There are some advantages here though. If I look long enough, I will find what I want. I no longer have to wait until next week when the truck comes in. Here I have choices. There might be ten different types of glue and any finish I can think of will be on the shelf. That makes it hard in one way, because I want to try all of these new things. I usually end up using the "tried and true" products I have been using for years. There is something to that, "if it sounds too good to be true." Many of the New and Improved, cost more and don't work as well as the old way of doing things.

There is something comforting about doing a job the way you have always done it in the past. You know what products last and you don't have to think about the steps needed in something new. I finish my wood pieces with Watco Oil Finish. I use several coats and wet sand some of them in, and then use a wax finish. I like Johnson paste wax. You can put it on and walk away, even a day later it will buff out real nice. Some waxes are so hard, if you leave then too long, you end up using extra fine steel wool to get them off.

This week I was doing some volunteer work for an art foundation. They had some termite damage, and I took out a wall and replaced it. Here is the cool part. I took out the wall, but didn't hurt the sheet rock on the inside. I replaced the top and bottom plate, put in new studs, insulated, put on a vapor barrier, and put new wood siding on that matched the old siding. The only thing different is that the new siding is smooth and the old boards have what looks like twenty coats of paint. They have been scraped several times and look kind of rough.

It was nice work, I was all alone in a sculpture garden, with a fountain. The temperature is now chilly in the morning and in the 70s by afternoon. I was doing the whole job on a ladder and that is why I had no column yesterday. I finished up and was beat. I can work just as fast and as hard as a twenty year old, but for only about five hours. I think I have learned a lot over the years, so maybe I get just as much done in those five hours as a young guy would do in a day. Measure twice, cut once. I have been making progress at the studio and have been working on sculpture stands. The back of the building I am in is a "canvas" for young people with spray paint cans. This week a young woman came up and painted a section gray as a base and then put on an abstract painting that looked colorful. I guess it looked good to her, to me. it looked a little bit like a Jackson Pollock, without the splashes of paint. You can't splash spray paint. You can make it run, but that isn't the same.

After the sculpture stands are done, I will install four pieces out in the gallery and finish up the fifth. I need to get the finished pieces out of the studio, both because it will give me more space, and they won't get all covered with saw dust. Right now, I have them under sheets to keep them clean.

Now that the hot weather has abated, I think I will get a lot done. Right now in northern Florida the weather is perfect for working and I plan to make a lot of progress.

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