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Joining a Community

On the way home from our first shop day, Arin and I were excitedly talking about all that we’d done. “Do you want to go next weekend?” I anxiously asked. “SURE!” she replied. But then Catie said, “Great, but just so you know I can’t make it next Saturday.”

Shoot! What would we do without our liaison to the know-how-to-use-everything-in-the-shop girls, and who could vouch for us simply by saying, “these are my friends”? Catie assured us, “you guys should go, really.”

Next Saturday, April 23, Arin and I rolled in, looking a lot like college Freshmen. Thankfully Rebecca was there and remembered us, giving us a huge smile and welcome. Another little blonde gal walked in, a cutie pie named Becky. Jess looked at the three of us and said, “hey, do you guys want to do some plumbing?” “Sure!” (I still wasn’t entirely sure what this “plumbing” thing was, though I’d heard it referenced before. Turns out, in the big metal art world, plumbing refers to building fire and flame effects).

Becky the Plumber

Becky the Plumber

We would be shaping copper tubing to fit into our metal umbrella prototype. We’d have to punch holes along its lengths and wrap it in steel wool for the propane to be properly distributed, then hook it all up. Jess taught us how to use the various tools we’d need – the flare tool, the tap spring loaded punch, the drill, and gave some pointers on working with copper. We fumbled around a bit, but eventually got our little Blonde Plumbing Station rolling. By the end of the day, we were all ready to “light some shit on fire!” The pros hooked it up and explain how to check for leaks as they opened the tank and lit it up. Oooohhh pretty. “Look what we did!?” Arin, Becky and I were beaming.

First Fire Brolly

First Fire Brolly

Again on the drive home, we couldn’t stop talking about the day. “The coolest part,” Arin said, “is I didn’t feel weird not having Catie there. Everyone was still really nice.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

All that next week I couldn’t stop talking about the shop and the project, showing everyone who feigned interest the pictures I’d taken. I was also thinking about how to improve on the plumbing process we used. While it didn’t involve any complicated or dangerous tools, the copper was

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hard to work with, especially the steel wool wrap and manifold hookup.

Jen the Plumber

The following Saturday I went over alone, after a quick stop at the hardware store for my own safety gloves and glasses. More warm greetings ensued. I was definitely feeling at home now. More plumbing needed to be done. Becky and I, now quite confident in our skills, got to work. We tried out my ideas for improvement and they worked brilliantly! The process was easier and the finished product looked much better. Jess was impressed. J

Along the way a few others joined the team. We taught them what to do, as we’d been taught the week before. Again Jess smiled. “You see, this is what it’s all about. If you can come here, learn just one thing, and then turn around and teach someone else, then we have succeeded.”

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