Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cleaning Bike Parts

Remember earlier this year when I realized I could get an assistant to all the boring work of recycling clay and cleaning the studio? And then remember how I got a studio assistant and it was great? I still have an assistant and it's still pretty great. She's been working throughout the summer, and though I haven't talked about her here, she has allowed me to focus on my work instead of devoting 3-4 hours a week to cleaning and recycling clay.

This is how I work: all the tools, all the trimmings, all the bike parts and all the sprigs shoved together on the table behind the piece I'm building.

My assistant has, as originally expected, recycled clay for me. Somehow this job never seems to diminish. How do I have so many stashes of dry or sorta dry clay? I think she might get it all done by September. Anyway, she has also vacuumed, cleaned underglaze brushes and tools and adjusted my storage shelves so I have actual room to work.

Ooh, look, a shelf for bisque-ware!

More recently, she's started helping clean my bike parts. In the first year of my bike project, SRAM sent me a box of 100 bike parts. Each part was individually packaged, clean and separated from all the other pieces. Interestingly there were four of every part and quite a range of colors.

Look at all the clean, colorful and duplicated bike parts from SRAM.

Last year, during my sabbatical, most of my bike parts came from Revolution Cycles. I very much appreciate their generosity, but free parts do come with a cost. I had to clean the greasy, dirty bike parts myself before I could use them. I also had to take some clusters of pieces apart to get to the piece I wanted to use.

This year I asked my assistant if she would be willing to clean the gears. It wasn't exactly what she had signed on for, but I'm paying her and the work isn't so much difficult as it is boring, dirty and annoying. She cleaned a whole stack of gears very thoroughly using paper towel, an old toothbrush and some Simple Green.

Clean, shiny gears. They seems to look cleaner when someone else does the work.

Later I introduced her to my friend, the brush grinder in the garage. The wire brush spins while someone holds the gear against the bristles. It is important to wear gloves because the sharp gear can kick back a little and cut into the hands. My assistant bravely used the brush grinder last week on a day when the temperature was close to 100 degrees F. We haven't installed a garage air conditioner, so it was a bit toasty in there.

Safety first: always wear work gloves when holding sharp objects up against fast spinning machines.

Of course the grinder in the garage isn't great for winter weather either. Last December I was cleaning chains using the grinder. I wrapped the chains around a gear so that the teeth held the chain in place against the brush. I could hold the gear and the back end of the chain a safe way aways from the sharp, painful bristles. It worked well except that the garage was frigid. With the grinder blowing more cold air at me, I lost feeling in my fingertips even though I was wearing gloves. Alas, suffering for art.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think about my work or this post