17 Sep 2012

If only I were a piggy . . .

. . . I’d perhaps be a little happier right now.

Actually, apart from about half a ton of mud that’s been bagged and is awaiting collection, we think we’ve largely seen the back of the mud that came to visit us during a torrential downpour a little over three weeks ago. We’ve had a lot of assorted visits from contents removal crews, mud removal and cleaning crews, insurance assessors, council maintenance managers etc. etc.

As if the distress of the initial damage isn’t enough, it seems to be a pretty ongoing battle getting anything resolved properly. The contents removal crew removed 90% of the contents, failing to deal with and itemise a corner full of our muddy junk. Whether they simply got bored, ran out of time, or space in the van, we were left with a pile of muddy stuff that we can’t now dispose of or claim for until someone has inspected and reported it to the insurers.

You can see the gaps that have opened up between the flags in our external path. After more cleaning and heavy rain since the photograph, the gaps and recesses are even more evident now.

Likewise with the mud removal, they seemingly only took 75% of it. The window that blew in under the force of the flood had a recess behind it and the crew claimed the detritus in that area was old muck, dead leaves and the like, compressed over time and not part of the flood residue. I couldn’t check as they’d taped bin liners over the opening of the lost window to help their drying equipment to work. But when Mr Boo came in and I told him of this, he reminded me that we’d completely cleared it about 10 years ago and put a fine mesh layer under the metal grille to prevent detritus from accumulating – which had been pretty successful. I’d totally forgotten about that at the time.

The horrendous and embarrassing state of our cellar mid-way through the contents clearance. You can see the depth that the mud and water had been on the side wall. The freezer had been floated and moved several feet from its starting position – the level and angle clearly visible on the side. The window that blew in can be seen with bits of jagged glass remaining. There is mud spattered on the brown structures and backboard of the electricity meter left of the window, so it reached just about everywhere.

So on removing the plastic covering we could see that the level of mud in that area was certainly deeper than it should have been. So we decided to clear it ourselves on Saturday – totally underestimating the task. Had we realised just how much deeper it was, we would simply have called the crew back to finish the job. We now have a dozen bags full of heavy mud and silt, we calculate it to be approaching half a tonne in weight. But they can certainly come and dispose of it for me. I think I might submit an invoice to them for 2 workers for 4 hours at whatever rate they charge our insurers. Plus 40 heavy duty bin bags, a bottle of shower gel and some new rubber gloves! It was truly horrible – and Mr Boo did the worst of it.

The area at the front-most point on the property where our path meets the council-maintained tarmac pavement, the edge of which (it never was a good job anyway) has been significantly nibbled away by the force of the deluge. You can see the size of the rocks we retrieved from the garden and pavement, just before the council collected them. The pavement is now marked up with white paint and they’re going to put me a proper kerb stone in to form a better step where the edges join.

Saturday proved to be a very hard day physically – whilst the weather was fine, we washed all the possessions from the cellar that we’d opted to keep, that had been piled up in the garden since the initial clearance. By golly, can that mud stick. I variously scraped off and swept up dried mud, washed with a brush and warm soapy water, rinsed with the jet setting on the hose and allowed to dry. At which time, the mud just appeared on the surface again. So my next stage was warm soapy water on a cloth and hosing again. Some things are destined to remain cloudy looking with a fine layer of silt. I think we’ll be living with this dirt for a very long time.

Now our attention will turn to repairing the structure. The window area needs replacing at least and the insurers have agreed to allow us the value of the repair towards measures that might prevent it happening again. At present we’re looking towards bricking up the window entirely (it brings in minimal light anyway, it’s main function for us was ventilation) and filling in the recess outside below the path and re-paving over it. I can’t even imagine how much that might cost, so it may not prove to be an option once the quotes are in.

More worrying are the cracks that suggest movement. Several large flagstones outside (and they’ve been there since 1874) have either new cracks or they’ve tangibly moved and we have a large crack through the stone window lintel in the lounge, immediately above the window that blew into the cellar. Yesterday we had another torrential downpour and whilst the cellar was starting to visibly dry since blowers and dehumidifiers were installed on Friday, we went down the stairs yesterday to see how the temporary sheeting we’d fixed over the open window was holding up.

Unfortunately, we were met with wet stairs and a puddle at the bottom. It would appear that water is running through an area that was perfectly dry beforehand. There were assorted trickles down the walls and where the stone stairs join the outer wall. So it’s clear to us that something has seriously moved. We have a building surveyor coming later this week, so we’ll have to await his findings.

Enough of that, I’m bored with it now, even if you’ve manage to stay with me thus far! 😉

On a happier note – recent work:

Between brewing up for tradesmen and seemingly incessantly mopping my kitchen floor (I told you that mud got everywhere, it sneaks under dustsheets too!), I have actually managed to make a few new things recently. Because my work area is immediately adjacent to the area the tradesmen have needed access too, I’ve not been able to get into anything more than I can work with hand tools. I’ve not wanted to solder and certainly not work with clay with all the dirt around at the moment.

My main focus during available working times has been to look after customers and fulfill orders, so I haven’t made much progress with new projects and photographing and listing finished pieces. But I have got my accounts up to date (they were woefully behind) and started on a full-scale audit of my own site – I have a lot of older designs still on there that I wouldn’t necessarily mind selling and making again, but I might prefer to re-make plated pieces in Sterling in future etc. So I’ve been working through my listed items and gradually modifying the details to bring everything up to date. Which has only served to lengthen my ‘to photograph’ list even further as I want to properly update some of my earlier listings. And I’m only about a quarter of the way through it.

I’ve gone a bit squiggle-tastic with recent work – once I work a shape or idea, my mind runs rampant with further related ideas, so I do tend to work in themes for a period of time. Once I’d settled on a method and sizes for making these squiggle shaped links, they lent themselves to a variety of pieces and worked especially nicely in bronze, which I left polished and bright in these particular earring designs.

I then wondered if I could link them together as a bracelet, much as I do with my leaf spiral shapes. I wasn’t entirely sure that it was working as I made the first one in copper, it didn’t look as nice as I’d hoped. But once I antiqued it, it totally came alive. It looks significantly better with some form than it had in its initial polished format.

My obsession this particular week is Egyptian Coils – I’ve sold a couple of pairs of earrings I made some time ago, so decided to re-make some more for stock and re-photograph them. I’ve just finished a bracelet too, so I’ll show that once I’ve antiqued it. The clasp on that gave me more trouble than usual and I’m still not entirely satisfied that it can’t be done better.

I love making a clasp that follows the same structure and patterns as the rest of the piece – ending the design then just plonking a toggle or clasp on it always feels like a cop out to me, so I feel the need to make the clasp an integral part of the design. With the Egyptian coils, the hook was easy, a suitable loop for it proved more elusive. I’m close, but haven’t yet got that buzz of satisfaction when you know you’ve nailed something. I like that a metal bracelet in wear can move around however it wants and the clasp area won’t be obvious. I like them to blend into the overall effect as seamlessly as possible. Beaded ones don’t need quite the same attention as the pattern is more varied to start with.

I made this copper clay pendant a little while ago, the top of which I angled, intending it to hang directly on chain. It didn’t work as well as I’d envisioned it, twisting a little in wear, so it went into my procrastination box (it’s another function of my ‘to photograph’ box) awaiting a suitable Eureka moment. I was working on a clasp arrangement for a customer to add to some ribbon herself, working out how she could do it herself without suitable tools and during that process, I wondered if this design might sit better on ribbon.

I dug through my stash and found a piece I had squirreled away from SowZerE Designs and the colours were a really good fit with the colours of the bead in the central section where they’d come together. Just stringing it on the ribbon still didn’t work well, so I made a bud-ended collar for it and now it works. I’ll make the necklace to length when someone buys it, the ends are just temporarily in place for the photographs.

I’m very short of bracelets in stock, so have been working on some beaded ones too. I spiral wrapped these sesame jasper ovals as their shapes are a little uneven and it compensates for that irregularity.

4 thoughts on “If only I were a piggy . . .

  1. Sorry Debra, I don’t buy in my components (other than beads), I design and make all of the metal shapes – squiggles, spirals etc. – myself.

    It looks like the contents aspect of the flood damage has been sorted out – now we need to get the building repaired – which is going to be quite a lot of work and we haven’t even got a start date for that yet. But it’s heading in the right direction at least.

  2. Bit late to the post but thought I’d sa a quick comment. As I must know where you stock your coils from, I run a jewellrey workshop and think that having these will give my group some real diersity. Thanks in advance
    P.S. Great post and hope everthing is sorted out by now in regards to your property.

  3. Thanks Helen. The supervisor for the mud clearance crew has been tonight and taken away all the mud we’d bagged and was very apologetic that it hadn’t been done better. Just as well they came, it transpires that the dehumidifier wasn’t working properly. I’ve now discovered fluffy white mold on my wallpaper downstairs and the outer walls are just wet to the touch. We need a few dry days to allow the water table to drop and things start drying.

  4. What a nightmare you’ve had! I do hope the surveyors find out what’s shifted and can get it sorted for you. And that it doesn’t drag on for too long xx

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