right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

putting materials together, to make useful things: part 1.

November 1, 2008 at 9:42 pm

This past week saw a great burst of work on the kitchen up in Worcester!

Here, Anna and Andrew are dismantling what’s left of the old counter on last Friday morning. The old sink used to be to the left of where Anna is standing…

anna and andrew taking apart the old counter

When the old sink’s plumbing and faucet totally broke down a couple of months ago (after a year+ of malfunction) Andrew and others went ahead and set up the new sink (scavenged from the Cohasset town dump by Nick’s mom) where you can see it in this photo under the window. He had tiled the counter, but because the backsplash tiling didn’t get completed, and the sink didn’t get caulked down, water splashed out over time, and had dislodged the tiles and also wetted the lath and insulation behind the sink… no good. Because of this, and for a couple other reasons (the old counter was 3-4 inches too low, the old plywood was not re-usable because of broken mortar and grout, it protruded awkwardly to the right of the sink, the space underneath it was dingy and gross, the plaster wall behind it was crumbling… etc) we decided to take the whole thing out and build it anew.

Thus the main focus of our work this past week was the sink area, getting it as far as possible along towards having a well-installed, fully-functional, completely-waterproofed sink and counter!

This is where we were at, early Sunday evening:

andrew working on the new counter

In the photo we are gluing and clamping a small piece of plywood onto the edge of the newly installed counter to form the understructure for an overhang and ‘drip edge’. (The crumbling plaster has been replaced with plywood.) Later in the evening (and way into the morning!) we mortared and tiled the plywood surface, using re-purposed tiles in two colors that were, by necessity and choice, cut and arranged into awesome patterns. No pictures of the final stages yet, that’s gonna be part 2!

I came back to Providence Monday evening. Then Thursday morning back to Worcester to do 2 more days of work. Now I’m back to Providence for a while, to work on prints for Craftland. Though I may go back to Worcester for a day or two, to keep the momentum going!

The intensity of the kitchen work kept me from finishing my ‘bread baking’ poster in time for the ‘sustainability art show’. It was actually a good thing I think: I would have been glad to be part of the show, but working on the kitchen, which will actually affect people’s daily lives! is more important to me. Getting to build things: to start with ideas, drawings, and discussion, then to put them into action and construct useful objects, was a crucial reminder of what my purpose in the world is. As far as I can tell!

More photos of last weekend’s work in progress follow:


removing the (newer) old counter; this piece of laminate-covered particle-board had gotten rotten at the ends, but Kevin, CJ, Dave and Anna cut those off and were able to re-use it as a mini-counter next to the fridge. Recycling!

Awkward Protrusion I
old built-in drawers

The (older) old countertop is mostly pried up, tiles have been pried off, the part you see here (the awkward protrusion) is soon to go. We also rescued these drawers and their frame, and will be using them temporarily till we can make some more… Then they will probably also be recycled into some different function in another part of the house.

oh crap

This is what every person renovating an old house LOVES to find. This is typical of the work done by the doofus/drunkard who bought the Forbes St. house when it was abandoned, fixed it up slightly, and then sold it to my friends. This is the cold-water pipe to the upstairs bathroom (there’s a mini-water-heater up there). Instead of being run inside the wall, it was run through the old built-in cabinet in this corner, then in a weird box that carried it up to the ceiling. Of course the dude didn’t think to INSULATE the pipe, so on the lath behind it you can see the dried-up evidence of mold that has probably been building up for the past three years, growing between the lath and the plaster on the moisture that spread from condensation on the cold pipe. Thanks dude!

We washed the mold off the lath with bleach, dried everything with space heater, and insulated the pipe, building another weird box of our own around it… In the foreground is the electrical wire for the adjacent room’s overhead light fixture, which was similarly run through and above the cabinet, in a sloppy and dangerous fashion, instead of IN THE WALL where it should be. We drilled a new hole up from the basement into the wall cavity and set things right.


The ‘couch room’ has been turned into a workshop and is totally covered in sawdust. Here Mariah stands on the plywood-supported-by-milkcrates, while Dave trims the edge off to fit. I need to clean the dust off my camera lens!

Fit to place
into place

Half-inch plywood replaces the crumbling plaster behind the old counter. We are hoping this will keep mice out better than the plaster did, as well as give us a sturdy backing to help stabilize the counter structure.

Awkward Protrusion II

Andrew is working on building out another weird box to cover the soil line & vent stack. These pipes used to be in the wall behind the old sink; now that we have opened it up to be a passageway, the vent stack sticks out about 1.5 inches into it. Andrew removed the pipe that used to connect the vent stack to the old kitchen sink and capped it off. The remaining problem is: how to build a sturdy wall around it, that will take up as little space as possible?

The ancient golf ball resting between the two pipes was found in one of the walls a while ago… The painted text on the wall reads in full: “Dish Washer Is Watching You”.

Plywood walls
plywood backing

The moisture behind the sink has been thoroughly dried out; Anna and Dave put the plywood up for good.

Tile time…
mortaring the countertop

This photo is probably from sometime in the mid-A.M. — we spent a long time figuring out the tile patterns… it was fun! The structure for the counter is now solidly built, and a scrap of plywood has been clamped under the drip edge to give the tiles of the edge something to rest on while the mortar dries. Andrew begins mortaring the countertop. Carefully cut tiles rest in the foreground…

Okay, we got a lot more done, but that’s all the pictures I have right now! More coming soon.


  1. Hello!

    I’m Aaron, of Fort Rochambeau. I noticed you have us as a link. Please comment on our site.

    Comment by Aaron — November 16, 2008 @ 9:57 pm
  2. […] been ready, I’d been motivated. I’d read aboutJean C installing a new kitchen sink. Was all that preparation just a blithe, fantastical dream? Is this sad state my reality? A drab […]

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

this work is copyright to jean cozzens | Secret Door Projects

Creative Commons License
most of it is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
for more licensing & copyright details, check out the credit page.