Lesson of The Texas Scorpion Resin Disaster

My Facebook account is worth having for all the story material it offers. I don’t care about any of the political crap, SPAM, arguments, Trolls and what-not.  I’m talking about everyday folks, talking about what they do and such.

I deal with a lot of artists and creative types. Most of them are bent towards rendering some element of the outdoors with their own special recipe for ‘wonderful image’; many of them really get that one right – a LOT! – some are more sporadic, but they are all immensely fun.  A few of them are commercial artists, designers and not so ‘attracted or even connected’ to the outdoors. But their work is amazing and they are extremely interesting folks.

The eclectic venture is rich in story potential.  I have no need to reveal anyone personally. For what flies off the page for one, can easily be experienced; if not posted eventually!; by a thoroughly camouflaging plethora of others.

A few days ago, one of the FBf’s (Facebook friend) posted a photo of them holding a small scorpion with a pair of tweezers. I briefly recounted my one-and-only ‘scorpion story’. Today, another FBf posted a story about, what was appearing to be a less-than-desired outcome with acrylic resin. More specifically, not setting up fast enough due to ‘not really’ following the instructions.

I decided to go into more lurid detail of my own near-disastrous encounter with both scorpion and acrylic resins, from a few years back. It comes from the only vantage point that is, in the least bit humorous: from the rear-view mirror of memory. But when dwelt upon, becomes a lesson in artistic insanity and the payment required.

 

GOTTA FIND A SCORPION

In 1983 my wife and I went to Austin TX to visit friends. It was December.  We stopped in Denton TX to visit some friends on the way down. He talked about all the scorpions he has to deal with.  I thought, “Hmmm. I’d love to capture a few and make cool stuff around them. Not sure what, but catch’em and figure it out.”

We went on the Austin.  I looked and scoured. Picked up more trash in construction sites than a day laborer. Nothing. Not even a fleeting glance.  I was more than a bit miffed to be so dissed by those supposed-to-be-everywhere, critters.

Only a couple of days left in our stay, I step out of an evening shower; after scouring the neighborhood for invisible critters; and low-n-behold, I dang near step on one of the little Arachnids!

I called to my wife; who did not hear me! So I ‘toweled up’ and scooted to the kitchen to grab something to contain my serendipitous treasure. I grabbed a plastic bag and salad tongs: I was in business.

Corralled, I was trying to think of just what I could do with my new-found idea, when **BINGO!!**… TEXAS sprang-to-mind.  I would make a clay mold, in the shape of the state of Texas, deep enough to hold the scorpion, pour in acrylic, wait a few minutes and VOILA!  Scorpion Art!

 

ACRYLIC FIASCO

“Why!”, I said to myself, “I could do dozens of these and sell them.” Of course I would need to find more scorpions… and my current ‘find-to-search ratio’, sucked, but not to worry. More will turn up!

A phone book search (analog days) finds the nearest hobby shop – YES! A speedy call informs me they have just what I need.  A quick drive to the store and back and I have the goods.

I spend a good hour making the clay mold of Texas. Pretty nifty it ’twas, even if I do say so myself.  Now.. to prepare the acrylic resin.  Read instructions.  Oddly, I too see, just like my friend with the ‘resin ED problems’ mentions, the words EXACTLY, multiple times.  And oddly, I too, eyeball the amounts.  Again oddly, I say to myself, “I’ve done enough epoxy I know how to do this.”, also swerved, like a drunk driver, through the local neurons.

By now it was near time for dinner party guests to arrive and shortly thereafter, dinner to start. But, despite my wife’s insisting, ‘… please wait til afterwards.’  (Good sense never stood in the way of creative genius!!)  – I forge ahead.

I decided to use a back bathroom, out of the way and at the back of the house. In my eagerness to embed this little arachnid, I failed to notice there were NO windows and NO exhaust fan in this little 4×6 room.  FIRST big mistake.

Next the scorpion was still alive.  No problem, the resin will kill him in no time; like a killing jar on insects, right?; and the resin will set-up fast; under 10 min – said so on the box!; and I’ll be out of here in no time. Piece of cake. Right?   Big Mistake #2.

OK.  I set the clay mold up.  Mixed the resin. Placed the scorpion in the clay mold; after some time I get it to, FINALLY!, ‘sit’ still. I then quickly pour the resin into the form.

NOTE:  Did I just say I had “…ALREADY mixed the resin”?  Taming the scorpion to ‘sit’ took about 10 minutes.  Do you sense the beginning of an unexpectedly – LOOONG wait?  Well, I hadn’t either.  I was too busy involved in Scorpion training.  HUGE Mistake #3.

Picturing the next 115 minutes would require a long video; assorted ‘bleeping’; and long period of toxic boredom. Which, no doubt a well edited version, would have produced a winning America’s funniest video.

But, here’s a simple outline for how the disaster unfolded.

1. Scorpions, though they will set for long hours, very still and quiet, while waiting for their prey, will NOT do so when acrylic resin is poured over them.

2. Distracted artists rarely ever think beyond the last neuron firing of “Wow! This will be great!” You would think we’re all rednecks. Wouldn’ch’ya!?!

3. Shag carpet and resin do NOT make compatible company.

4. Small rooms and even small amounts of acrylic resin become too confining -and Toxic- FAST!

5. Screaming obscenities – even when muffled by highy toxic small bathrooms, situated far back in a house – is rarely a socially acceptable activity.

6. Trying to pick up an acrylic-dripping, very pissed-off scorpion, in shag carpet – without getting stung – is a delicate and messy operation.

7. Mixing acrylic resin NOT within the EXACTING amounts – as so directed – results in ‘longer than desired curing times’.

Alrighty. The scene was a disaster-in-the-making. The only thing that did NOT occur, was the acrylic resin did not burst into spontaneous combustion flames, by the incredible build up of exothermic heat!!  OUCH! But I *DID* burn my fingers pretty good.

I did manage to find a pair of tweezers; which I had to replace after the messy ordeal; to pick up the sticky, pissed-off, scorpion and place it in the Texas-shaped clay mold; then filled the cavity to overflow.

Scorpions are TOUGH.

The little bathroom was becoming LD50 Toxic!  I was feeling VERY light-headed, but that little scorpion would give-it-up and DIE!  It kept pushing it’s tail UP and OUT of the resin.  I kept poking it back DOWN.  Again. Again. Again…and AGAIN!  For minutes on end that dragged into an hour and 30 minutes.  I thought my head would pop!  I nearly tossed my dinner a couple of times.  But I stayed with the process.

FINALLY. After what seemed like forever, the scorpion quit moving. Fortunately – HE – died first!

The tail stayed down. The resin began to harden. I could finally leave the room and get some fresh air.

I walked out of the Toxic Bathroom leaving the little critter behind and the messed up section of shag carpet; that I had totally forgotten about; and ran outdoors to BREATHE!!!!!!!!

 

SCORPION STEALTH

Needless to say (but I will) I was NOT a popular person in that house the next couple of days. The smell of the resin was still there when we packed up the car and left. I apologized profusely. It was graciously accepted.  Our friends remained so. Being a bit on the ‘creative crazy side’ themselves, they actually understood. And the newly minted, “Texas Scorpion” was clearly a hit!

I have to admit the little critter has continued to be quite a hit throughout the years.  The little acrylic Texas Scorpion, took honorable placement on five different office desks and started literally dozens of conversations, over the years.

He has been relegated to my current office and confines. Now, very much out of the public eye. Every now and then, I seek out the Texas Scorpion and give it a good look. Only to realize, once again, a truth: from time-to-time, I get some seriously hair-brained ideas.

A few years back I noticed the segment above the stinger looked a bit, ‘frayed’.  On close (magnified) examination, I could see that the little arachnid succeeded in foiling my efforts… after all.

That little bugger, was able to raise his tail, just enough to get to within microns of breaking the surface of the acrylic. Over the years, that minuscule layer, only microns thick, had worn away, leaving that segment exposed to the air.

Natural decay has begun to take it’s toll and the the arachnid SCORES! Touche you little fart.  You got me again.

I say again, because, that near LD50 exposure to the acrylic infested air, was one of 4 major chemical incursions I have had in my life. The culmination of which tossed me into the whirring blades of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Chopping up 20 years of my life and for the rest of it, totally re-adjusting how I live.

The little arachnid got his revenge. Again, touche!

 

RUMINATIVE REFLECTION

So, do I believe karma kicked in and I should never have captured the little creature and tortured it so?

Well, yes and no.

  • Yes, I should have killed it properly; snuffing it out quick and painlessly;
  • Yes, I should have waited;
  • Yes, I was an idiot for exposing myself to such an intense toxic environment;
  • Yes, karma may well have bit me in the butt;

No, I would do it all over again… but, WITH some serious technical alterations.

So the take-away from the Texas Scorpion Debacle are simple:

a) Make sure the scorpion is dead BEFORE attempting to use it for art.
b) READ and FOLLOW, EXPLICITLY directions for using toxic materials.
c) AVOID lengthy exposure to toxic materials.
d) Give careful thought to ignoring both wifely wisdom and good sense warnings.
e) Enjoy creativity, but refrain from the more insane parts.

Yes, I still have, and enjoy, the little creation that includes the only scorpion I have ever seen, touched or dodged, in the wild.  It serves as an interesting conversation piece with others who see it … and my inner-self who knows it’s a very serious reminder.

Insanity kills.

Far more often than any scorpion sting.  And, acrylic resin is made to drive people insane. Dangerous combo.

These are truths you can count on and record for posterity.  Because if you don’t – you’ll repeat them… and may not live the second incursion.

If you do, God help you. The payment is bankrupting.

Now… go forth and CREATE. Sanely, if possible.

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