The one where I give examples of how I haven’t set myself on fire

I am clearly still madly in love with my husband, because I find him cute even when wearing safety goggles and a face shield. This attraction is only valid when we are hanging out in a metal shop, because if he started wearing them generally out and about I would be disavowing any connection to him. But in an area with random bits of flinging metal shavings, he is adorable.

Husband’s cuteness while swathed in safety equipment became apparent when we took a metal lathe class together.  It was odd. Not in the way you’re thinking (okay, I have no idea what you might be thinking could be odd, but I’m sure you aren’t thinking of this). I haven’t taken a class in the last few years that didn’t involve the risk of setting myself on fire. Just odd to not be thinking about my personal flammability issues…

Okay, I did take a couple of guitar lessons. And a spinning lesson (the kind with wool and a spindle, not the kind where you are on a bike speeding to no where). Oh yeah, and the yoga classes.

Fine, my life is less fire filled than I thought. I suddenly feel like less of a risk taker…

But really, there is a fair bit of flame in my life.

I do raku pottery, which in its final step involves putting glazed pieces in a special kiln, bringing them up to somewhere between 1725-1800 degrees, and then opening the kiln, and while the pottery is still glowing orange hot moving them to a garbage can filled with paper and having the heat of the pieces set the paper on fire and then sticking the lid on the can so the fire burns off the oxygen and the glazes turn metallic. At the same time you try not to singe the hair off your arms and legs from the heat, put them in the can carefully so you don’t 1) break them or 2) set yourself on fire (not listed in order of importance) then step away quickly enough to avoid the column of flame that comes out the can, taking special care not to let your hair or eyebrows or really any part of you catch on fire, then put the lid on, then use the spray bottle to put out any fire that has managed to not stay contained in the can.

For this I get paid. Well, sort of. I mean I get paid when I sell raku…

And the husband and I took a lamp work class (which, in case you are like me and thought that lamp work somehow implied you’d be making lamps, is the process where decorative glass beads are made.) The other people in class commented on how unsettling it is to have a three-inch column of flame right in front of you, but the husband and I were thinking things like “gee, isn’t it nice when you know exactly where the fire is, and that the fire stays the same the whole time, and how none of our body hair is singeing”

For this I am in no way get paid, because I’m not that good, and also because I really haven’t practiced enough to get good. Sort of like what happened with the guitar lessons. But, you know, with fire.

And then we took a welding class, which we liked because they had a nice collection of welding gloves and aprons and jackets, and while we both slightly suck at the welding process (once again, at this point linked to the whole we haven’t practiced much…..) we both though “oh, we gotta get us some of this cool protective gear!”

And then we took a bronze casting class, which had less flame than I thought it would because it turns out they don’t actually let students pour their own brass (something about insurance and students setting the foundry on fire, or themselves on fire, and death and lawsuits and blah blah blah). But we did get to play with blow torches and chemicals. And continued to not to set ourselves on fire.

I think we’re getting quite good at that. The whole avoiding setting ourselves alit thing. Actually, turns out we are pretty good at the whole bronze sculpture stuff, too. Who knew?

But anyway, back to the metal lathe class – no flame. No need for fire-proof outer wear. Just the need for eye protection. And short sleeves and a pony tail tucked into a hat.

And then there was about an hours worth of: “you need to have your hair pulled back. Or in a cap. Or in a hair net. Unless it is really short. And even then I knew a guy who got his short hair caught up in the lathe, and it ripped about a three-inch chunk of scalp off” “you really need to make sure you keep your fingers out of this area, because other wise they’ll get broken” “you need to keep your fingers out of here or they’ll get ripped off your hand.” “you need to keep you hand out of here because it will get mangled. Or torn off.” “You need to keep one hand in your back pocket at all times or else you risk having your other hand broken, or ripped off, or abducted by aliens” (Okay, not the last one, just seeing if you were paying attention…) At the end of the hour I just wanted to keep both hands in my pockets forever, and was really longing for a nice fire risk, so I could feel more at home and relaxed..

Even with the risk of mangling and alien abduction, I ended up enjoying the class. And now the husband and I are actually planning on going back and making a bunch of game pieces (a bunch being four pieces or various random shapes. Unless it is fun, in which case a bunch being defined as the number we can get out of a brass rod). Because we have game night with the neighbors, and we usually play a Cheap Ass Game (which, as you can tell from the capital letters, is actually the name of the game company, and not a derogatory comment on my part). Part of the Cheap Ass Game Company’s philosophy is that games should be cheaper, and one of the reasons they aren’t is because all games give you the money and dice and game markers you need, but really you only need one set in your life, so they don’t provide them, and instead just provide the cards and the game board – which is not so much a board as regular pieces of paper you can tape together. Which is all lovely, except that we often don’t have game pieces, so we end up using a penny and a paper clip and once a raisin. So we’re making the neighbors game pieces. Which even if they are lumpy and odd will still be better than random office supplies and trail mix.

So in summary: Metal lathe class fun, even though lacking in fire and an over abundance of protective face wear.


About woodenmonkey

Just your average solar powered, hybrid driving, organic eating, happily married, pro-choice, feminist Christian artist and writer from San Francisco.

Posted on May 7, 2011, in I love my husband. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I once took a spin class in which we were spinning fire.

    I didn’t set myself on fire either.

    I am totally interested in taking all these other classes that pose such a risk but can’t. Because I’m poor. And classes cost money.

    Your hubby sounds like a badass though. As do you.

  2. woodenmonkey

    Congratulations on not setting yourself on fire, too. We should form a club – Badass Babes Not Aflame.

    If it makes you feel any better, I couldn’t afford these classes when I was in my thirties, either. Happily these things stay just as interesting and fun when you’re in your forties.

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