Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tiling the Ceiling: Gravity and Magic

Einstein struggled with the nature of gravity most of his life, and he never was able to fully explain it.

Here's what I think about gravity: Matter expands and continues to expand at a relative rate. What we feel as gravity--something pulling us back to earth--is actually inertia. The earth is like a balloon that is swelling bigger and bigger. We jump up, and the earth swells up and smacks us in the butt. We're swelling, too, but not as fast as the earth because we are much smaller.

When you put tile on a wall, you need to use spacers or gravity will pull the tile down the wall, or rather, the floor will catch up to the tile. This slipperiness persists until the mortar dries. The ceiling is even more slippery.

First, I put a burn coat (a thin layer) of mortar on the ceiling--I did this days ago so that the coat would be very dry by today. Then Cheryl helped me snap some red chalk lines on the ceiling so I could keep the rows in line, which is really important here because the tiles need to line up on all three walls.

But like everything in science, there are exceptions that work because of magic or witchcraft. I needed some magic to make the tiles stick immediately and hold on tight to the ceiling for no reason at all. I found the answer online, at the Floor Elf.

Then finally this morning I was ready for a test. I mixed up some mortar just so--very thick but not too thick. Then I put a heavy layer on the back of a tile so that it completely filled the curve of these weird hand-made tiles. And then I drew a circular pattern into the mortar, careful to get some on my third finger and my thumb (that's the magic part).

I pushed the tile onto the ceiling and gave it a good shove to cause the extra mortar to ooze out the sides. It makes that gritty sound that you get from biting into a sandwich at the beach.

Of course, I was afraid to let go of the first tile . If the magic didn't work I'd have to go to plan B, and there wasn't a plan B. After setting a few I realized that I could let go immediately. And later, when I needed to pull one of the tiles off to replace it, I found that I could not even get it off with my hands, so I had to pry it off with a screwdriver.

Now that I think about it, my ideas about gravity are pretty stupid. I'm rethinking that whole subject.

Using the grid lines made things go pretty quickly. I finished half the ceiling today. More later.

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