I love all the beautiful work students in our industry are producing! Beautiful mock ups, wonderful examples of wood and rock and even beautiful coloring.
Working in controlled environments however does not teach a student or group of students how to deal with adversity in the field, this, in my humble opinion is failure to train properly.
We have a lot of good trainers out there, many which bring students in on projects and the trade-off is learn while producing. This does not give the client the best work possible as students or inexperienced workers are learning the trade. Good for the students not so great for the client! This scenario does address the fact that ambient conditions can change the workflow and adjustments and/or concessions must be made.
When a light rain comes or it becomes windy or the temp exceeds 90 degrees, the artists have to adjust, wet tarps may be needed, tents are required or heaters are needed. I would emphasize the need for thinking on the fly because it is not always wonderful weather. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are perfect for placing concrete, but usually there is some condition that must be dealt with either with chemicals, structures, heat or it can be as simple as a delay where everyone goes home with show up time.
My point is this, we need to teach students to expect the unexpected, let’s prepare them for challenges in the field. I would hate to see a group of artisans go in the field with wonderful ideas only to be destroyed because of a little bad weather! This art form can be controlled if you prepare for it.
You will not be working in a controlled environment all the time! There are conditions you must be prepared for. Painting rockwork in Arizona is different than doing it in Minnesota where your paint can freeze overnight and you’re out 5k and now behind schedule. That cost is on you!! But by careful planning a warm shed can keep paint at the proper temperature and that burden can be on your employer to provide this service releasing you from serious liability and expense! Remember, everything is a negotiation.
I remember one time a long time ago when I was coming up… We poured a slab and the latest greatest thing was a salt finish. Once the slab was floated out we would broadcast salt in it and finish as usual. It looked great everybody went home. The next day we discovered that the raccoons just love salt and spent the entire night digging it out! It was funny in a “It’s not my fault” kind of way, A major expense for the owner! It’s not easy but always try to expect the unexpected if you can help it. Experience teaches us, sometimes painfully.
I would like to add that concrete does not wait! Your windows of opportunity are always shrinking and you have to move quickly, sometimes no time for lunch or breaks! It’s a wild animal that needs constant supervision. The rewards are great though, it just takes patience. When a seeded slab looks beautiful or a chunk of sculpted rock is complete it can be the greatest feeling ever! This artwork can get in your blood, it did mine.
Watching the weather and news reports will aid you in your decision making. Concrete is a difficult business; concrete burns can happen causing serious bodily harm! These students must be made aware of the dangers and take precautions and use the PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) gloves, safety glasses, and back braces will protect students from the aches and pains some of us veterans are going thru now, like me! Advil is not a breakfast and lunch!

4 Responses

  1. I think adverse weather conditions are part of the adventure of life on the road. Extreme weather can make it even more crazy, I remember a industry t-shirt that said “we work where others fear to travel” It can be that insane!

  2. Yeah, snowy conditions bring a lot of unexpected surprises! Freezing paint, icy walkways and hoses and cords that just will not relax are a few of the difficulties in cold weather. Luck favors the prepared I always say.

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