July 20, 2019, marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and this anniversary was covered often in the news. It brought to mind my favorite scene from a movie, Apollo 13 — “From Problem to Solution.” It is also called the “duct tape and cardboard” solution.
After the amazing “Houston, we have a problem” scene, in which part of the spacecraft was lost, the astronauts, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) were in danger of dying from the exhaust of their own lungs. They had to find a way to fit a square lithium hydroxide canister into a round opening.
The scene that I am absolutely in love with is when “backroom” experts at ground control enter a room, dumping boxes of stuff onto a table. The leader says, “We have to find a way to make this (holding up the square canister) fit into the hole for this with nothing but that (pointing to the stuff on the table).” Their challenge was there was nothing on that table that the space crew did not have in the spacecraft. There was not a second of hesitation; they just started working. Using plastic bags, cardboard and tape, they put a model together. They then led Captain Swigert, step by step, into building the same contraption in the spacecraft!
Currently in our industry, it seems like we have a gadget for everything — many good ones that really help.
Morton seems to be the leader in a lot of these gadgets but there are lots of other companies that have helpful gadgets to offer.
Then there are all those times when you just don’t have the right gadget. You live in a remote area and things are not easily obtained (or you just want to spend your money on glass!), so you just get inventive and move on. Just fit that “square thing into the round hole” is strong in this industry.
I asked the folks on the Facebook groups Stained Glass Addicts, Maverick Fusers and Mosaic Mentoring for examples of sometimes they just had to “make do.” These are the responses I received. (Thank you, guys — you are awesome to share your experiences!)
Carol Brock: Use a cardboard box, cut the side off, poked a hole in the back side for the electric cord and put grinder in. After a time, change out for another! A real “cardboard and duct tape” solution!
Carol Rumak: Paper clips can be used as hangers. They fit neatly over a seam and are strong!
Cayti Bouldin: Doing a lot of small work. This works! LOL
Brenda Calhoon Sheik: I use these to burnish and to clean. They last forever.
Kathy Lieber:Free paint stir sticks from Home Depot and upholstery tacks for solder framing.
Kelly Cole Jones: Use pizza stones as kiln shelves, or even ceramic tiles. And (you) can reuse shelf paper multiple times if you’re careful. Also, (you) can use bisque items as molds and can use already glazed/finished ceramics as molds too. Or (you) can easily make your own mold with low-fire clay.
RoseMarie Brown:You can fix the burnt part of the circuit board of a soldering iron controller with a piece of copper foil.
Kim Jennings: Nothing special, but I use a toothbrush to apply patina.
Bobbi Ogborn:Light table = 4 quart paint cans, 1 piece sheet acrylic, one fluorescent tube light. Easy to set up, take down and store.
Stevie Cook Clements:Electric toothbrush for polishing textured glass.
Sharon Watkins: A length of guttering nailed to the end of my bench. Then I just sweep off glass shards etc., into it. Easy to empty.
Sheila H. Chadbourne:I put my sawdust into this container with a brush to remove the wax off my suncatchers. So much faster and (it) keeps it contained.
Jeni Gray-Roberts:I use steel bowls from tag sales to drape over. Kiddie strainer and tea strainers for sifting glass frit. Fat “smoothie” straws cut into a makeshift spoon for glass powder. Aloe as a light glue. Final Net hairspray as a fixative for transporting. Fat painter’s brush as a table broom. Emery buffers to do final smoothing on small glass pieces. White foam core from the dollar store a photo background. Wooden sewing embroidery hoops as circle to pour frit into on shelf (remove before firing)