A day off.

I’m late posting because I’ve been having a day off.  I don’t often do that, which is odd; in theory I’m retired but in practice I’m working more than ever.  I like to have a purpose or several purposes for each day and feel very satisfied if I have done all I set out to do in the day.  But today I’ve had a day off.

It’s because I’ve worked solidly for seven days, starting at nineish and finishing at night at elevenish and having a few breaks between.  That was after over a week of pouring, starting at nineish and finishing at half nineish at night because of the cold in the kitchen.

I worked until half eleven last night and stopped when the kiln was loaded and ready to go.  In the kiln are several hundred pieces of small porcelain items.

Today all I did was the washing machine twice.  The first with some ordinary clothes and all the dusty ones.  Porcelain, once poured, dried and retrieved from the mould, emerges with seam lines, lumpy bits, holes, imperfections and so on.  It then has to be gently rubbed until perfect.  I use old tights which are abrasive enough.  I wear a respirator, a headband, an apron, and very old trousers, top and ancient cardigan.  I work next to the Welsh dresser, which gets covered with bin bags.  I work on the dining table with three covers and sit on a covered chair, resting on a builder’s plastic waterproofing sheet.  All the dust rubbed off goes in a lined bin.  All the time I am working a battery ioniser is on.

Yet the dust gets everywhere.  Despite the headband when I fall into bed at night the dust falls out of my hair, my ears, my fingernails and coats the bed.

So today I cleaned, vacuumed, washed all surfaces and the floor and changed all the bedding.

Then I put the kiln on.

I was still working right up to the end last night because I realised some of the pieces might have air trapped in them.  Air trapped in a piece of porcelain would expand and explode, which you definitely don’t want, so last thing last night I was making holes in anything that might have a hollow in it, which was a lot of pieces.

Then I spent a few hours covering the shelves with kiln sand and carefully placing every piece of hundreds with a tiny border of space round it.

This morning I put the washing out and the kiln on, then I got on my exercise bike because for a week I’ve been getting up and sitting down, which as regular readers know, I consider to be dangerous activity, or lack of it.

And then I really stopped.

Tomorrow when I open the kiln I will know if there is success.  If there is I will spend a few days glazing the ware then there will be another firing.  If that is successful I’ll be on to china painting and firing again.

Then all I have to do is grit scrub my fingernails off, dry everything, match up the pieces, assemble and if that goes well, just dress and wig.

The thing about retirement is, I can’t imagine how I ever had time to work.

So, today, I had a day off.


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