Saturday, July 2, 2005

Last Class Day and Wrapup

It's actually Tuesday morning and I've been home in Seattle for a day. I'm trying so hard to separate the week I've just had with what surely awaits me at work. I love my staff and my work so I'm looking forward to the challenges that show themselves every week but the stress I feel at the torch (yes, there IS stress - will I burn the glass, will those wings crack, why can't I do hands and feet very well yet?) is an entirely different kind of stress than keeping business going so I can keep my staff (and myself) employed.

Let's see - final class day. I was a bit mopey without meaning to be. I think I woke up and realized a few things - It was all coming to an end, I was not leaving "a master" of anything (not that I expected to be but it's a little like starting over), I was having to say goodbye to a great group of people I had met, I was coming back to my grandma's passing, a long trip lay ahead... I managed to squeeze out a few smiles during the day but the emotions were right under the surface. Even Lucio noticed to my dismay and I told him I was just tired.

The class got more relaxed as the week wore on. Six full days with Lucio was both wonderful and at times too much. We spent a lot of time at the torch on Friday and Saturday with fewer demos. When Lucio did demo, however, he showed us some new techniques. For example, he made new little birds, showed us how to make more avant garde figures using similar techniques and how to incorporate everything into one big piece. This last skill culminated in a goblet that was just breathtaking - he took the Medusa figure and combined it with Perseus and an angel and an "architechture" to make a piece that I'm sure is worth thousands of Euro. It was an amazing sight to see.

My trip home was uneventful, if extraordinarily long. Next time, it will be worth it just to cough up the dough to fly direct. Once home, I felt like I was in a different world. I was greeted by my adoring little posse of animals. Cats and dogs alike were jubilant at my return (it's nice to feel loved). Getting in the car yesterday to do simple things like grocery shopping was foreign to me after not having stepped foot into pretty much anything but a water taxi for the week. I couldn't muster the strength or the time to torch - so many things to do and as it was the 4th, the 70lb dog was almost in my lap at the sound of the loud bangs of fireworks. I can't wait to get into my studio though - it'll have to wait until tonight. There are new tools to use, new techniques to try.

I plan on assembling a series of thoughts and tips on this training opportunity in the next day or so. I know I was desparately searching for info before I left and some things were truly left unsaid - as simple as bring mosquito repellant (think DEET) if you're prone to bites and what tools to bring, etc.

I'd better get dressed and start my day. Thanks to all of you for reading my blog. I've had a fun time writing it. I will continue on with glass news and musings. I plan on offering much more of my work for sale in the coming months - gotta pay for that next trip to Italy!

By the way, I've assembled all the pictures I took into a web page. Feel free to browse through and take any that you would like by right-clicking on them. I have the (huge) originals as well if you need copies.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Class Day Five - Goblets

Friday - we woke up to thunder and lightning and got absolutely soaked on the way to first Carlo Dona (third trip - seriously not because I think Roberto is very, very cute - but because there's always one more tool to buy after you see it used in class). The rain was still coming down in sheets as we made our way over the bridge to Lucio's workshop. Shoes splooshing and my jacket soaked, the rain let up just as we went inside.

Today Diego showed us how to make blown goblet stems and bowls over the torch. Ay Carumba! This is what I got into glass for! We each got our turn at the torch and I have to say, my first attempt was nothing remarkable but this is one thing I'll go home and practice for sure. I can see making ornaments, bottles and a number of things this way.

At the end of Diego's demo, Lucio showed us how to make goblet stems - and of course, he had to make a beautiful little costumed figure to go inside - what a work of art. The two pictures I've included are of the goblet blowing and of the finished piece. Only one more day - I'm in denial and can't believe it's gone this quickly. I'm not sure if I'll be able to update on Saturday night - we'll see what airport access is like.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Class Day Four - Medusa - Oh My!

What a beautiful day in Murano! Blue skies and the rain cooled everything down to a wonderful 70 degrees. I did some major damage to my bank account at Carlo Dona tools (actually I had some reserve but I'm tempted to go back in there just to gaze on Roberto again - he's such a cutie and so nice).
Class today was very relaxed and we spent much of the day practicing what we'd learned. I've gotten very good at making the little torsos but tend to crack the piece when working wings or putting a loop on for a necklace. It's all a matter of heat control and practice!

We went to a hot shop today and saw the incredible skill with which goblets and other blown items were made. Since I started in glass in the hot shop, somehow this felt like "home" to me. It was fascinating to see that what I've learned in Seattle is identical to what I was seeing here.

In the late afternoon, Lucio started showing us other animals - he's fantastic at it but they're definitely not his "style". I think he did this because we have all six days with him (some classes have Vittorio Constantini teaching wonderful beetles and other bugs and animals). Someone asked for a snake demo and he said, "Ah, too simple - I make Medusa!" Wow, what a demo! It was like ballet, or poetry watching him put all the snakes on her head. Wonderful!
I feel like the week is winding down now. Only Friday and Saturday left to go and I start my (really, really) long trip home. I'm telling myself not to think about it now.

Pictures for today - the rings that I made yesterday. I can't take credit for the base of the black ring - that was done by Diego - but they're my flowers and I made the complete purple ring -

Medusa - to die for!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Class Day Three - Rings and Pizza

Third day of class - half through now. I'm trying to remind myself that we still have three more days. What a great day! We started out with demos by Lucio. He showed us how to make several different versions of angel wings. My only attempt cracked but it was still good practice. In the afternoon, Diego (Lucio's apprentice) showed us how to make glass rings. So simple once you master it but difficult to get the heat just right. One thing that is something that a beginner (like me) just doesn't get right away, it the amount of heat and cooling that it takes to get the glass to pull out in one fluid motion while keeping its shape - PPP (practice, practice, practice!).

Tonight we went to dinner on another island and we took three boats. One belonged to the shop assistant, Diego. When I saw it, the thought - "jalopy" - automatically came to mind. There was a raging thunderstorm while we were at the restaurant and when we came out, the nice boats with covers were dry and poor Diego was left bailing water out of his boat. We had a good laugh at his expense. Dinner was fantastic and it poured rain and thundered and lightning-ed (is that a word?) through dinner and we worried we'd have to take a (water) taxi back. By the time we'd had our Tiramisu and espresso though, it was fairly dry and other than Diego's boat situation, we got "home" without incident.

The rings are in the annealer so I'll have a few pix of them tomorrow. Today, here are a couple of pictures of the angel wings - first by Lucio

And now - my cracked attempt (basically, I cut the wings apart too close to the back which caused stress in the glass - I like the torso though) -Finally, a picture of Diego showing us all how to do rings -

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Class Day Two - More Anatomy

Another day of the human figure - torsos today. Lucio also did a swan, spider, scorpion and fish. He'll pretty much demo anything you ask him to and make jokes the whole time. I'm utterly amazed by his skill and lack of ego. One of the more impressive (they're all impressive) demos he did today was a costumed jester. His use of color is fantastic. I didn't get a good photo but I'm providing one of a devil he made and one of us in class.

Here are a few of torsos I made. Perhaps we were just giddy but when it came time for the male torso, well - let's just say that the "parts" were a bit too impressive (wishful thinking?). We giggled as I went through the process of "emasculating" him and made them smaller. These busts are only about 1 1/2" high (the male and female) and the odd "she-male"-looking one is about 2 1/2" high.
A few words about Murano. It's such an interesting place. Boats = cars. Yesterday we saw a Boxer dog perching himself at the front of a boat with a young woman steering and talking on her cell phone - just like home but with a twist! This the time of year for swallows - the birds swoop and soar along the canals and I'm really enjoying seeing their scissor tails above. In the late afternoons and evenings, little older ladies in housedresses spend hours perched at their flower boxed windows taking in the activities on the streets and canals. It's a fantasy world with hot shops everywhere. I think Kimberly or Corina mentioned the hum of the furnaces 24 hours a day and it's true. It's a wonderful place!

Monday, June 27, 2005

First Day of Class - Whee!

We started class this morning at 9:30 am. Immediately there was a "situation" - Lucio and Diego had a meeting in Venice and were few minutes late for class. Lucio quickly began a demo and we had another "situation" when he realized "the music is broken". All of this was quickly made up for as Lucio created a beautiful woman in a matter of minutes, and then another and another... It's magical to watch and there was more than one gasp out of our class and clapping at the end. He made a mermaid that is just amazing.

We were then encouraged to try the human figure on our own. My hands were trembling (maybe it was the two tiny cups of espresso and cake that Lucio's mother made for us for a midmorning snack) but I think it was sheer fear! I managed to make something human-like and then I moved on to a mermaid. Though just not quite right, I've included a picture below and hope to show you a better looking one by the end of the trip!

We broke for lunch around 1pm and had tortellini and salad in Lucio's gallery, surrounded by incredible works of art. Lucio made a remark that we were "much quieter than the last group" - meaning Corina, Kimberly and others. After lunch, more demos, more practicing until dinner. Anne and I went out and ended up sitting next to two American girls who were disappointed not to be getting the attention from young Italian men that they expected. It was a fun dinner followed by yet more practice. We just got in to the (air conditioned yay!) apartment and are heading for bed.

By the way, never let anyone tell you it isn't broiling hot and humid here in the middle of summer and bring mosquito repellant - they're eating me alive!

Enjoy the photos - first, my mermaid -

Now Lucio's Mermaid -

A unicorn -

And a classical woman - look at her fingers!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Day in Venice

My roommate, Anne, and I went to Venice this morning via water taxi. It's been very hot and humid since we arrived and so we grew tired and soggy as we made our way through the quaint streets to Piazza San Marco where we saw incredible architechture (and a ton of pigeons and tourists like ourselves!). I'll post a few pix below. We had the customary piece of pizza for lunch and a gelato (Amaretto - second only to Chocolate!). I can't seem to ftp to my server from here but I can post pictures to my blog so the 147 (literally!) pictures I've taken so far will have to wait until I get home but I'll put up a few each day this week so you can see what we're up to.

Tonight, guess what we're having for dinner? Why, pizza, of course! Most of our group should be in by 8pm when we plan on meeting Lucio for the first time at his studio and then going on to the only pizza place on the island that is open on a Sunday night. More tomorrow...

A cool lamp on a Venice street.
Close up of on the statues at San Marco.
Marzipan (yum!) in one of the shop windows.