Remember when I declared the incubator as the MVP of my life? Well, while I still give him gentle pats as I squeeze by, and the occasional big glowing hug when no one's looking, I am afraid I have to admit I have a new love of my life: Stone Chisels.
Recently my parents bought me a set of three stone chisels ranging from 1/4 to 1 inch. And my word, they are perfect for all the little lab things I have needed to do lately.
Like taking samples from a fresco!
Today I also worked at pulverizing a terra cotta pot, for making a lime-ceramic mosaic mortar.
I started with a brand new cute little pot which rode with me all the way from New Jersey, and I had a low-grade panic attack and all-consuming guilt about taking a hammer to it.
I eventually found it therapeutic.
I then used my beloved stone chisels to cut the shards down into smaller pieces. You would think that terra cotta should be fairly malleable and easy to break down, maybe even crumbly, right? Then like me, you would be wrong. This stuff is HARD. Like rock hard.
I transferred the smaller pieces to a mortar and pestle in small batches, then smashed the crap out of them with all the force I could muster. Thereafter, I ground them into a sand-like powder, fully half of which I inhaled. (Note to self: Respirator. Look into it.) My lab was a disaster, and I am still finding little flakes in my hair and on my clothes.
After more than four hours of this process, I was incredibly sore and had this to show for myself:
(It probably goes without saying, I need a lot more.)
My my my, I hate terra cotta.
My hands were filthy (even worse than they look), and I joked with my labmate that I looked like some kind of peasant. The filth conceals raging blisters and pretty intense aching.
And I get to do it again tomorrow!
I remember reading a book about poor people in India who worked in a stone quarry, smashing stones into each other to break them down into smaller pieces. I sympathized at the time, but now I can also relate. So not cool.
I can't believe I felt sorry for that pot.