Occasionally, my husband and I have gone to Tesuque Glassworks to watch the glassblowers work. I love how everything is named – the gaffer works in a hotshop and uses a blowpipe, with which he grabs a gob of molten glass that looks like fiery bubble gum or taffy. The gaffer blows through the blow pipe or swings it like a slightly mad baton twirler and rolls and flattens on a marver. The first furnace of three is a furnace, the second, glory hole, the third, annealer. My favorite word is parison, which is an elegant word for partially blown glass. There is pontil, gathering iron, tweezers, paddles, all for adding, shaping and managing the glass. The process is dance between heat and glass, gaffer, technique and time and there comes a point if everything doesn’t meet, vase, plate or cup will end askew or shattered. Perfect and it will be a plate big as the sun and costly or taffy encased in a marble.
Once, I interviewed a man applying for disability, who had been burned, the skin of his face melted like a child’s crayon left in the sun to become a slippery run on the table or coloring book. My hands itched to pour his face back into its mold the way we once took old wax or stubs of crayons, melted them in a double boiler and poured them into baby food jars for candles, the way we still sometimes stick our fingers in hot wax then peel it embossed with our fingerprints.