Fused Glass from Tropics of Costa Rica

Dirty Power

glass fusing kiln playa samara beach costa ricaI don’t know how often most artists have to repair their kilns but I feel like I do it too often.  In Costa Rica, we have “dirty power” – the voltage fluctuates . . . a lot . . . and frequently.  Wind and rain can cause power outages.  Bird nests cause transformers to spontaneouly blow up.  But we even have unexplained power outages on windless, dry sunny days.  The power can be out for only a second or a few hours.  It can flicker ferociously.  Although the utility is pretty good about getting us back up and running quickly, these electrical surges are really hard on equipment and appliances.

So, suddenly this week, my glass fusing kiln is not getting hot.  This is after I changed an element just 6 months ago.  so I talked with the manufacturer –  Olympic Kilns – where Sarah walked me through some diagnostics to determine that I need a 12 volt relay switch.  I called the Vitrocolor in San Jose from whom I bought the kiln but they have no parts in stock.  They referred me to repairman who wanted $200.00 to come and inspect the kiln, more if he could repair it.  I suggested he just send me the part I need on the bus – that’s how we get most packages throughout the country – but he doesn’t have that part in stock.  There’s none anywhere in the country.  What then, you might ask, was he going to do to repair my kiln if he made the 4 hour trip out here to Playa Samara from San Jose?  I didn’t bother to ask.  Instead, I ordered the part directly from the manufacturer in the US – plus an extra to have on hand – and had it sent to my cousin in California who is coming to visit next month.  I should be back up and melting stuff within 3 weeks.

The students from Tuesday’s class won’t be taking their projects home with them when they leave Costa Rica.  I’ll try to mail them from within the US when I next visit in April – I just can’t risk sending them from here.  Alas, this is life in Costa Rica.  It seems like we’re always waiting for a part for some piece of equipment or other.  But on the whole, it’s still worth the hassle to live here.  You just have to embrace the Costa Rican motto, “Pura Vida” which translates as “pure life” but really means “What me worry?”  Until my kiln repair is complete, I’ll be spending more time at the beach.

This is a problem?


2 responses

  1. Paula Barrows

    Hi Lavae,
    We were advised to purchase a whole house surge protector in order to protect against power voltage fluctuations. We bought one at Lowes and Les installed it right into the panel box. I think we only paid about fifty dollars. Might be worth checking out!

    Pura Vida

    February 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    • We’ve installed a whole house surge protector and we have a second one on the TV and all computers. I’ll have to confirm that my 240 volt is hooked into it. Thanks for the head-up.

      February 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm

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