Sunday, May 3, 2009

Retarded ...

As I told you yesterday, I had problems with the plaster setting too fast, which prevented me from smooth troweling it for a nicer look (did anybody ever mention to you that I have the tendency to perfectionism).

I knew there are retarder products out there, made by the same people who make the plaster, which prevent the plaster from setting prematurely. So I get on the phone and call my usual sources. All but one gave me the acoustical equivalent of a jaw drop, which I am so accustomed to by now (am I really asking for things way off the charts, maybe it is me).

Fortunately, there is the interweb, which knows it all. So I punch in "gypsum retarder", and off it goes looking, searching, foraging, finding, like a three page paper by the Air Force Medical Division. Amongst other things it says there that colloids, like blood and saliva, retard gypsum.

Gosh, those materials are available in abundance, and free!!! So I grab my mixing bucket and start spitting into it. That lasted all but two minutes, when I ran out of spit. I tried hard, but aside from a few drops I just couldn't spit anymore. I had collected a meager amount of spit, but how much coverage would I get out of it, and should I risk starting a wall, not knowing if my supply of saliva had replenished by the time I ran out of plaster?

Naturally I had to find something else. The military had mentioned blood, which may be abundant for someone in the military, but all I had were my five precious quarts of blood circling my body, and although the thought of slitting my wrist had crossed my mind, I would have most likely fainted before I could mix, not even speaking of applying, the plaster. And what if I ran out of plaster, would I have to turn into a vampire, and turn innocent by-walkers into Gunk Haus wall coverings?

Fortunately I have a wife, no not for the blood. She also is an avid interwebber, and found out that tartaric acid will retard gypsum as well. I am sure all of you have tartaric acid handy for such occasion, that is if you were interested in making cheese, quark, yogurt, and various other milk based products. Well, we are those kind of people, and off I went to give it a try (no animals, wifes, and innocent bystanders were harmed in the making of this plaster).

The result was ok, but I guess I just didn't add enough tartaric acid, largely because I didn't know how much to add, and because we don't have that much in the first place. Back to the interwebs. And there it was: Borax!!! Yes, you heard, borax, the stuff that makes your cloths clean. Off to the next supermarket, $2.69 per pound, now that is what I call a bargain retarder.

My first experiment was ok, but I am certain I need to add more borax (hey, those walls better shine). Tomorrow. Wait for it ...


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