Thursday, February 19, 2009

The local pharmacist thinks I am a nutter



I haven't posted to the blog in a while because I've been busy hitting my head against the wall lately. (Apparently my friend Sarah has been doing the same, so at least I had company even if I didn't know it at the time!) Usually I can find humor in almost any setback, but I'm afraid even my natural optimism was taking a beating.

My problem has been getting a good rubber master of Vixen. Rubber masters are always tempermental things anyway, so I am used to the idea that it's going to take more than one try to get something useable. But the master is the part that counts, because the it creates the image in the plaster. Any problems there will simply repeat on every casting. It's a pain, but making several copies until one is perfect is just part of the process.

Vixen has been a whole other ballgame. No matter how I vented the poor mold, I was getting trapped air. Huge areas of trapped air! Each time I'd lose the back raised leg. If I was lucky that's all I would lose. Usually it was much more.

In frustration I decided to call Barry at Laf'n Bear. Barry is one of those people who are just natural problem-solvers. (He's the one who first introduced us all to the wonderful uses of Legos.) He was also familiar with Vixen since he'd done the resin casting. He had a number of suggestions, one of which was to use a syringe to inject new rubber into the air pockets.

I thought the idea just might work. What I didn't think of at the time I spoke to him was to ask where one might get syringes. It would need to have a long, metal tip if it was to get through the tough rubber. Big metal syringes aren't exactly a common thing one might have lying around the house. Surely, I thought, diabetics must use these things. So I made a trip down to the local pharmacy.

I guess I should point out here that I am about as far removed from any counter-culture as one can get. I've never (knowingly, at least) met a drug addict. I've never even seen illicit drugs of any sort. I wondered, perhaps, if something like a needle might be controlled in some way because I knew that shared needles was a disease vector among people with drug problems. Surely they wouldn't take those risks if needles were readily available.

So I checked out the area where diabetic supplies were located. Lots of lancets, but no needles. Getting brave, I went to the counter to see if perhaps they were like the newer cold medicines - available but requiring you to ask. As it turns out, you can get needles if you have an insulin prescription - or if you can convince the pharmacist you have a good reason to need them.

I suspect I must have featured in the lunchroom discussion there at the pharmacy that day. Dressed in a t-shirt for my son's school chess team and driving up in a minivan with church bumper stickers, I probably didn't look like a drug addict. But explaining what a rubber mold is, and why you might need a needle (a big needle, I kept telling her - long and with a big opening!) to fix it, isn't easy. Most people have never heard of rubber master molds, and wouldn't imagine some suburban housewife makes rubber molds of tiny horses in her kitchen while her kids are at school. Maybe I need to start carrying one around in the car, just in case I need a visual aid, because I think the girl decided that I was a (harmless, probably drug-free) nutter.

But she did sell me some syringes! Unfortunatley even fresh rubber was too viscous to go through the needle, so it didn't solve my problem. I'm almost glad, because I'm not sure I can bring myself to go back and tell the folks at the CVS that I need more! I think the idea might work if I could find a larger gauge of needle - perhaps vets use larger ones for livestock? But I'm not sure I want to ask anyone!

So it's back to banging my head against the wall. I do have a few more potential solutions to try that don't involve convincing anyone I'm not a criminal.

11 comments:

Winchell Clayworks said...

You can order boxes of needles and syringes from some vet supply companies (like Omaha Vaccine). Livestock needles are large gauge, and if you can push penicillin through them you might be able to push rubber through. Some states won't let the company ship needles to you, so you'll have to check when you order. If not, you must have some horsey friends in another state....
Besides, your vet will probably "get it" more than the pharmacist, having probably played with plastic ponies when young :-)

Lesli Kathman said...

Oh! Thank you! I kept thinking that we used really large needles to vaccinate horses, and that those were probably what I needed. I'll have to see if my state allows it. If not, I'm sure I can find some out-of-state friends.

Of course, there's always the chance that this morning's pour worked. (I don't want to think how many times I've thought this over the last few weeks!)

Lesli Kathman said...

Omaha Vaccine was very helpful, and I was able to get some really large gauge needles. I figure it's worth another try with better tools!

mel said...

The things we do for our ceramic equines!! Your blog is like a wonderful chapter book (short chapters, true) on my favorite subject---I love books that blend the technical with the humorous backstories that go on around making the techie stuff work! Enlightening AND amusing---nothing better than that!

Danielle Feldman said...

I agree with mel. Your blog is a fun read, while reminding me that I'm not quite ready to get into ceramics. (wink).

Kristi Sawin said...

Lesli, you could also try a bird feeding needle (aka crop needle). They are used to hand feed pet birds. Another option could be one of those injectible marinade kits, which would probably be a less expensive option. :) Best of luck!

Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig said...

Would a vacuum chamber help here? If so, Barry knows how to make one (a great project for Alan), since it might be needed for future rubber castings on teensy pieces. Dunno though! I'm so sorry she's being so well -- "herself" for you! DOH!

If it's any consolation, my Haflinger mare is *finally* starting to jive, so maybe that's a good omen?

Becky Turner said...

wow, I know now Im not read to start making nay ceramic molds! lol... winchel CW beat me to the needle thing though..Id have told you the ones I used for penicillin shots may work for you.. I think it would work for some of my resin molds!!! lol I had a sm that the feet always came out hollow or not here.. even with tons of venting.( might be a good thing to have around for any of us casting anything! ) I was able to get some good castings but someday I'll get me a vacuum chamber like sara says.. hey sara I may be asking you to have Barry tell me how to make one..someday !
thanks ago for teaching us so much! I love reading your blog!!!
Rebecca Turner

Erin said...

This post gives me confidence to go and ask at my pharmacy - I need some large-ish needles for a couple of tack making ventures, but I don't want to order a whole box online. Wish me luck!

Lesli Kathman said...

Erin, if you'll email me with an address, I'll send you a few. I did order a whole box and I have tons now!

Erin said...

Oh thank you Lesli! That is so kind - I did talk my pharmacist into selling me some yesterday, but I think they are all too small for what I need. You are awesome - sending you an e-mail now! :-)