The next step in bus conversion was for Kirstin to tile the newly built fire-surround. After going over the boxes of mismatched tile samples, removing any missed glue or paper, we loaded the boxes into the bus and prepared.
As an adhesive, we chose Megalite, though it's one of the more expensive tile adhesives, it's strong and will resist heat very well. Since the fire surround would not only bare the heat of the wood stove, but shake and vibrate as the bus roared across North America, it seemed smart to get the best possible adhesive we could.
Kirstin had all the proper tools, a couple buckets of warm water and, of course, a chilled Guinness.
While I find my work inspiration in a cup of coffee and thermos of black tea, Kirstin finds her in a can of Guinness. Since she'd been watching the kids non-stop for the past, well, since they were born, she deserved a beer and some quiet work.
The first time I check-in on her work, I was pleased to see the bottom nearly complete, the mismatched tiles looked surprisingly good together. Kirstin was moving along well and asked for another Guinness, she got it. Like a real pro, Kirstin bent over her work. Her loose-fitting pants hung low, revealing what I dubbed, "The Crack of Destiny".
The Crack, has made an appearance nearly every time I've worked with Kirstin. She likes to wear baggy, loose fitting pants and old punk-rock t-shirts, and I like to accidentally drop pencils on an dive-bomb trajectory toward The Crack. Whoops.
I was kicked-out of the bus immediately after taking the above picture.
I went inside and sat down to watch television with my father-in-law. The kids were both asleep and time slipped past.
When buying the necessary materials for the tile job, I made sure to buy a sizable bag of 3/16" spacers for the walls. While the tiles were all different sizes and shapes, I thought it would be helpful to tie them all together with even spacing. The juxtaposition of even spacing with uneven tiles would work nicely.
The next time I went to check on Kirstin, it was, to my mind, complete bedlam. The bag of spacers sat, unused on the table, same with the tile cutter, and for some reason, the straight-format wall-tiles had mutated into some kind of mosaic that threatened to over-take the whole wall. It scared the heck out of me. Instead of the organized dis-order that I hoped the tiles would become, there was just disorder.
Kirstin said something about breaking the tiles to make mosaic pictures.
I looked at her, eyes wide.
"You hate it."
"...I really like the bottom..."
"You hate it."
"No, the bottom's good." I softened, "Maybe I can give you some help..."
She looked tired, having transformed from mother to tiler late in the afternoon. It was now 10 at night.
"Sure, this is harder than it looks."
I didn't waste any time, squared-off the diagonal mosaic and, using spacers, set big tiles in succession. Kirstin filled-in missing pieces in her mosaic, and after a short while, we finished the wall.
We have very different ways of working, different personalities, and while we occasionally collide like differing weather systems, for once we didn't have the juice to argue. Though I was shocked to see what had become of the wall, she wasn't super defensive and any potential disagreement drifted away. Kirstin let me fix a few things and I let her keep her design. Though it turned out nothing like I thought it would, I like to think that her 'see how it turns-out' style added something to the layout I had in mind.
Though not entirely pretty in the picture above, when we added our grout the next night, all the gaps were filled and the fire-surround ended-up working out.
Bonus: no yelling.