JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Plaster holiday

Had a week of holiday to plaster the hobby room.

Monday 21 March

The weather is fabulous, and I got a week of holiday. So how do you start a DIY week? Well, you start with breakfast, and after breakfast, you take a cup of coffee. Except, we drink filtered coffee, and we just used our last paper filter yesterday. I could go to the grocery store and buy new paper filters, but I could also try to make my own filter.

I literally fished out the last used filter from the trashbin and, rinsed it from coffee, ripped it open at the seam to get the pattern. Then I placed it on a discarded cotton bed sheet. Cut it out and hand sewed a reusable cotton coffee filter!

My idea had been to put a steel wire at the top edge f the filter, but DW suggested rolling the edge. I did that, and it worked!

After making coffee, you just need to empty the filter, rinse it and let it dry. It can dry while hanging on a bottle. When it is dry, it is more rigid. That makes it less likely that it flips over while making the coffee. So far, it has worked fabulously!

I don't know where you are about lowering consumption, but this is totally legit for us. Over the years, we have bought hundreds of paper filters, used them once, and tossed them away. That is over now; we stop doing that. I think we will make more filters from recycled material, but this feels really good for us; it also tastes good.

Another thing we started doing is using the plastic bags from the bread for collecting and throwing away plastic waste. In our old house, we bought new plastic bags to collect plastic waste, and we often threw away (empty) bags of bread. So far, our bread consumption is such that we got enough bread bags to reuse for plastic waste. It blows my mind that we paid money for something to collect waste, and one of the things we discarded was plastic bags. The only thing that kept us in this habit was the garbage bin. It is obviously larger than a loaf of bread. In the new house, we have not yet got a bin. That was why we tried using the empty bags from the loaf of bread, and it works!

We got similar things with jars of jam. Storing leftovers and even using them as drink glasses. We got plenty of glasses standing in the old kitchen cupboard waiting to be used. We are increasingly in the new house, but we have not yet decided to move the kitchen stuff to the new house.

I believe that we will keep some of these alternative new habits when we get all things moved.

One difference between the old house and the new house is that the floor in the new house is more rigid. In the old house, you could drop things, and they often bounced on the wood parquet. In the new house, it breaks because we got ceramic tiles. We have already broken several pots. We dropped things in the old house, but it often did not break there.

Today I removed one of the last flags still standing. It was on 21 March 2020, exactly two years ago. We bought broomsticks and put on a flag from a used bed linen sheet. The broomsticks fit perfectly into the tubes used to indicate the plot, but the broomsticks cannot slide out after swelling. The broomsticks deteriorate and then break if you remove them from a tube. That was what I did, I tried to get it out of a tube, but that failed.

I started plastering the hobby room on the first floor, the main goal of this week.

Tuesday 22 March

It was perfect weather today, but I worked inside. Although my plan was to be focused, I did a couple of ad-hoc things, such as giving all indoor plants water.

I discovered that a Rosemary shrub had sprouted in the fridge! I prepared the seeds on 6 February this year. According to the plan, the seeds will stay in the fridge until 3 April, another week and 5 days. I will stick to the plan, except I took out this little critter. The sticker on the package says that the plant will need to warm slowly, but that part is tricky. I don't have any facility for that. The best I can do is leave it outside during the day and indoors at night to avoid it freezing.

I also moved the sheep to a new area. The idea is that we will move the sheep quickly around the plot so that we don't have overgrown parts already at the start of the season. We really need some rain. I took out the rain gauge today to anticipate rain that might come someday. The clay is holding a lot of moisture, so our grass is doing fine for now.

Wednesday 23 March

The beautiful weather is stuck, but we are not happy with this kind of weather. We need rain for our grass. This day was wholly designated for the real estate agent that came to us. DW had to go to work for a social event, even though it was her regular day off. I drove her to the train station and continued to our old house.

I wanted to improve the impression of our house. Not so much for the real estate agent but for my feeling. First, the yew tree had to be trimmed. A couple of years ago, I found an electric trimmer in a second-hand shop, and it came in handy for trimming the yew tree. The previous owner had already planted the yew tree, and the only thing we had done was trim it from time to time.

Then I trimmed a privet shrub and cut down rests still hanging from the grapevine. Last year on 29 March, I moved the grapevine to the new house, but I left the branches hanging. Now it was about time to cut them down and dispose of them. I collected the cuts, bunched them, and stuffed them into the car. I was warm when this was done.

With these garden actions, I was done outdoors. Then I went inside to clear the living room. It has started to look like a garbage pile. I cleared the rubble and packed the things in the car, vacuum cleaned the open space so that the living room looked nice and tidy.

Then I went to the recycling center with things to get rid of and to the new house with things that should be saved.

The electrician was in the new house. He was busy connecting all the UTP cables in the router. It is quite some work, but he is handy at that. He remembers what the colors should be!

Then I went back to the old house, met up with DW, and soon after, the real estate agent came to our newly cleaned house. We discussed the process of selling the house. She was delighted by the second floor; it was a gorgeous space. The bathroom and toilet were not impressive at all. I thought she would also like the doors to the garden, but apparently, that was just standard in her eyes.

After the real estate agent had left our old house, we went to the new house to make a simple dinner and enjoy the evening.

Thursday 24 March

Today DW had a regular work-from-home day, and I had a day off. I started by moving the sheep fence a nudge, and it was such lovely weather in the morning already. It promised to be a summer day.

I discovered I missed the pot of Malva Sylvestris in the fridge. It had to come out of the fridge on 19 March, but it was okay to take them out now. At least, I hope so.

Then I started working on plastering in the hobby room on the first floor. Plastering is done in two phases.

  1. MP75. The product is called so. Machine Plaster #75. I mix it with a bit of TopFinish. This is the coarse stage. This mud is cheap, and it can be applied in thicker layers.
  2. TopFinish. This is the final layer stage.

Until now, I have only been working on the coarse layer. Today, I started by sanding all seams to better understand how well the previous layers had dried up. I got covered in white dust, and I concluded I had to apply more mud to most of the seams.

After lunch, I started mixing another batch of MP75 mud to plaster the walls. I found out I had not done the chimney yet, It has a more significant gap between the gypsum plate and the chimney, and I would need PU foam to fill that. I went to the shop and bought more PU form and more of the metal corners.

When I came back from the shop, I applied a little of the foam. I clean the nozzle of the foam can with acetone. That way, I can use the foam several times. This is so handy!

Lately, the sheep have been playing with the water bucket. That is annoying because then it falls over, and it gets empty. Then they get thirsty after a while and want more water. I strapped the bucket to the blue shed. The water consumption decreased considerably.

I plastered more seams in the hobby room when the sheep were happy.

Friday 25 March

This is becoming a highly repetitive blog, but that is inevitable because you do this when building a house. This day it was absolutely fantastic weather, again again. The nights are cold, nearly freezing, but it can be well over 10 degrees Celsius during the day, and that is important because that is when the grass starts growing. I moved the sheep fence a little in the morning so they had a new area to graze from.

DS has started filling up our paths with fresh wood chips. He is removing grass in the path as well.

The plan for today was to cut the metal corners to correct lengths and mount them. I also hoped to finish plastering around the chimney. I found out I had bought too few metal corner rods, so I had to go back to the shop and buy more.

I also found I had to apply more foam around the chimney. These are the kind of preparation tasks that takes a surprising amount of time. Actually, all this plastering is just a preparation for the primer. I have not even come to phase two of the plastering; it annoys me this is so time-consuming. The gap around the chimney was a little too big for my liking. I screwed a couple of screws to be embedded in the mud and made sure the mud was held in place. I will also use scrim tape around the chimney.

The scrim tape is woven and adhesive, so you can put it up and then apply mud over it. The adhesion capacity is not that great, so you cannot apply it and then wait for half a year and apply mud.

The metal corners need a surprising amount of mud to stick to the corner. First, I apply mud to the corner, then press the metal in the mud, and then I finish off with more mud on top of that.

Our regular recipe is 820 grams of water, 1000 grams of MP75, and 200 grams of TopFinish. A regular plasterer takes ten times this amount in one go, but that is inconvenient for an inexperienced plasterer. If you mix too much, the mud gets hard before all of it is applied to the wall. When I worked on the metal corners, I tried a triple batch. I decided to mix it outside to avoid splattering around the workshop. I was about to put down the bucket outside the workshop when it slipped out of my hand. It fell perhaps 10 centimeters (a couple of inches) and splattered plaster water on my t-shirt.

At the end of the afternoon, I had applied all the metal corners to the door and the windows. I was tired. I do believe I can start on the top-finish phase of the plastering project tomorrow. I will inspect the situation tomorrow.

Today we got the offer from the real estate agent. We accepted the offer, so now the process has started. We need to collect information for them. Even though they will do much of the work, we also need to do a lot. It is always the same, just as when we arranged the mortgage. That, too, was a lot of paperwork.

Saturday 26 March

It is still sunny. Very few clouds. Last year in March, we collected 647 kWh, and until now this year, we collected 876 kWh. That is 35% more sun compared to last year. The grass is growing; the first patch we let out the sheep has recovered nicely already. It looks like mowed lawn by now. The clay still holds moisture, but there are cracks in the clay. Neighbors that have made their plots higher got an issue because the grassroots are further away from the groundwater. Besides, they don't have clay with the extraordinary capability of harboring water. There is rain lingering on the horizon, but it is still unsure if we will get it.

Today the plaster project went into the next phase: TopFinish. I decided to plaster the ceiling first. Three edges still had to have corner reinforcement. I tried paper on the south corner, and I got really upset by how challenging it was to get it right. The paper started bulging and stretching. I even started muttering so loud that DW came and asked me if I were fine, and I was not okay. I got the south edge finished but decided not to use paper anymore. That is easy to say; not so easy to do because we got 4 boxes of paper corners and just one roll of scrim. Anyway, I will use the scrim until it is done, and then we will see how I progress. Then I worked from south to north. The east corners had to have reinforcement as well. The ridge already had scrim tape. I plastered around the chimney and applied little pieces of scrim tape to make it stay together no matter how hard it would be storming.

The east corners already had a scrim band applied; I just had to smooth the edge. The advice is that you do one side of a corner and then let it dry, and then you come back when dry and do the other side of the corner. I had luck several times doing both sides of the corner, but that luck did not stay with me on the west side of the ceiling.

I stood there on the scaffold, and suddenly I said to myself that you cannot let business processes rely on luck; a business process needs to be more robust. Somehow I saw the challenge of plastering a corner as a metaphor for business. Having been lucky while plastering a couple of corners does not mean that I used a robust method. I then decided to do corners as you are supposed to do them in two passes. That was the south edge of the east sides of the ceiling. On all other sides, I did the other method relying on luck.

After plastering, I decided to open a bottle of wine. But how do you open it without a corkscrew? (It is still in the old house.)

I used a good size chipboard screw with a pozidriv number 2 head. Let the screw head stick out a bit.

Then I fastened the screw head in the workmate; pushed the bottle down.

It worked!



Note to self: bring a corkscrew to the new house.

Sunday 27 March

I will not finish plastering the hobby room this week, sigh. I was able to do a lot, but I will not be able to finish the room so that we can start painting it. Oh well.

When I started this plaster project, my hands were smooth, say grit 800. So smooth you don't notice the grit, so to speak. Suitable for polishing surfaces. The situation with my hands has deteriorated throughout the week. On Wednesday, I started thinking of my hands as sandpaper. I stroked DW on her arm, producing a hissing sound; she smiled at me, saying, "your hands are getting coarser." On Thursday, I concluded that if hands can develop an abrasive surface, they can also be described with a grit number. Let's say I was at grit 400. Now it is Sunday, and I am probably at grit 240.

The red bell pepper has already sprouted! I started this project on 15 March. I still have no plan for what to do with them when they grow bigger. I will keep them indoors until it is safe to put them outside. I gave three tubes to a neighbor who got a glasshouse.

Today, I did corners the way it is supposed to be done. First, I applied the scrim band to both sides of the corner. Then I let it dry, and when dry, I made the corner neat only on one side, letting it dry again and then returning to the other side.

The windows had an issue because the sides and the corners were thicker due to the metal reinforcement. How about the bottom side? We will have internal window sills, so there is no need to reinforce the bottom. However, the transition from the surface on the sides and the bottom surface were too much. I decided to build up those edges to match the sides. For that, I used MP75. When that was done, I returned and applied a first finishing touch layer at the bottom of the windows. It looked better.

I managed to apply TopFinish to all parts of the room, but I have to go back and make an overview of where to go back and improve another round.

This concludes this week. It was indeed an intense plaster week. I have done a monstrous amount of work on the walls, but it is not finished; that is nothing to do about other than continue at another moment.

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.