The clawless bathtub is resting on its cedar cradles, on its reinforced cement slab, in my back yard, just outside the window of my lower bathroom. There is a laundry tap in the sink with threads to attach a double washing machine hose that feeds through the window to supply hot water.
After I painted it fire-engine red, I started calling it my Ferrari. Vroom vroom.
It took a day of levering and re-carving of the cradles to get the tub in place, and then I had to plumb the nearly 100 year-old cast-iron with the modern version of the clawfoot drain.
Don’t even make me think about that.
I built the support shelves on either side, a larger one near the wall for seating and shampoo, laid some broken patio blocks for the floor, and dug a drain hole for the bucket and made a drain cover with a couple of broiler pans.
I added a pergola, ready for the curtain and purple passionflower, and a cover/roof, so my housemates can have a hot bath in the driving rain: the first two baths have been a success!
The last problem to solve was filling the three holes near the top of the tub, meant for the safety overflow and the taps. There’s no exact plumbing made to just block them off, just the gaskets, so I had to go second-hand hunting for things I didn’t even know existed.
Finally, using a vast collection of junk, including a cover for the end of a stair-rail pipe, the bottom of a brass candlestick, a hockey puck, and a star-spangled blue bouncy ball (the cherry on top), the job was done. Just finding the stuff that would work and the right sized bolts was one of the most difficult, time-consuming tasks, and reminds me of Dr. Seuss: oh the thinks you can think, if only you try.
The knows you can know. The doos you can do.
For example, I now know you only get one chance to screw a rubber bouncy ball to your bathtub. If you have to take it off, it’s already garbage. I bet that’s not something you could Google, and I bet it won’t become a meme.
But I am please that I can now introduce myself an experimental plumber.
People are always asking you to define yourself. I don’t know whether it’s because I grew up on a Saskatchewan farm and was seen as an outsider to even the small-town school I attended, but it still seems strange to me to call myself all the things I have a right to call myself, and it was others who called me ‘artist’ first.
“Experimental plumber” sound just about right, though, and make me smile, and I think my father would like it too.