Pouneh's present!

This was a project for my friend Charlie to give to my friend Pouneh
for her birthday, which is near Valntine's Day.
Well, that's not exactly true...
Charlie wanted it for Burning Man, but I didn't get it done.
In fact, I took Bill Concannon's neon class mainly to learn
the skills needed to make this one project!!
I worked hard on it in class to get it done -- my goal this time
was xmas.  But I just had too many troubles.
Mostly the glass was *very* fragile once it had been heated.
I couldn't easily make a bend near an older, cold bend --
it would shatter in the flame!
I even had trouble just doing a bend then walking away
and it would shatter on the table, and I hadn't even touched it!
Mr. Foo had heard that this color -- blue [to be pumped red for pink]
had particular trouble breaking.  The phosphor should *never* get
into a weld or it will break, for instance.
We surmised that the coating would embed itself in the glass when heated,
and from there, realised that the lead-free glass [which I was using]
required more heat to bend it, and that this might contribute to
the fragility.
So I switched to lead glass -- and Bill generously gave me some!!
But I still had trouble with it.  It was better though...
The biggest trouble seemed to be the double-back bends with the u.
So the sign was saying fuck-u!  Grrrr...
I eventually broke my way through all the glass Bill gave me.  :(
I had only one stick of it left...  And as I nervously started to heat the glass
to work it...my blowhose stopper fell out!  [This is common, but once the
glass is heated it's floppy and you can't let go of it to put the stopper back in...]
That's it!  I gave up!
So I took it to Bill's shop to beg him to finish it.
Bill said, ''oh, don't worry, I'll look over your shoulder and help you!"
But I looked dejected..."um, would just just *finish* it for me??"
And he did. :)
And pumped it out too!  Bill is so wonderful!
And then, after I returned from the City teaching my classes,
I noticed it had broken AGAIN!!!  Two places: the u and the k.
My roommate had been moving out, and it was pretty sure that's what happened...
[No, he didn't apologize. >:-( ]
I was speechless.  Utterly struck dumb!

This time I was *determined* to fix it myself!!!
In my neon class, I found a couple sticks of the unleaded, and just gave
it a try to see if I could work it now that I had more experience.
I made the u!!  But there was still the k and I was having trouble.
The next day, I decided to simply replace the part of the k that was broken,
and I did it!  And then I welded the replacement parts in and it worked!!
And I *carefully* removed the electrodes -- by cutting the body of the electrode itself --
And I got the new electrodes welded in!
The next day, Bill -- very generously again! -- pumped it out.
And here you see it, on his workbench at his bombarder,
pumped out and ready to go!
Boy oh boy look at what a frankenstein project it is!
Look at all those welds on the face!  All those thin bends where the red comes through!
Egads!  It is a testament to the struggle it took to make it! :)