Saturday, May 19, 2007

I've had fingers on the brain recently. And no, I'm not talking about brain surgery.

It began with the Vatican Mosaic Studio exhibit I checked out in the Quarter recently. There weren't a LOT of works in the show, but the ones that were there were amazing (Update, 5-21: Ms Mermaid concurs). No, it was not all Jesus pictures...there were mosaicized Monets, a Chagall, Van Goghs, some works after Roman mosaics, and, my personal fave, The Virgin Of The Finger.

My favorite track on the Stax 50th Anniversary compilation that I got recently (in part to help the little guy complete his first-ever assignment) is pretty appropriately titled.

The final thing I've been thinking about recently involves the guy mentioned in this glass artist's chronology (check 1994 - and check the rest of Marquis' site while you're at it, especially the slide-o-rama. Full disclosure: Marquis was also the man responsible for the wet clay in the glory hole). Bob Naess gave a lecture at the art school I attended, and brought, along with his slide carrousel (remember those?) , the drive shaft from a car, which he had turned into a twelve-foot long blowpipe, a massive, solid piece of glass that had to be wheeled in on a dolly (he said he'd used the drive shaft to create the thing, which was almost as tall as I was, and about as thick as my body), an assortment of different glass objects of interest, and a whole lot of crazy stories.

He brought some of the murrine that he'd made a few decades ago, when he traveled with Dick Marquis to Murano to be his assistant, and told some stories about it. He would put some Mickey Mouse murrine in an oven to be reheated for use in a glass work and get hauled into the office of the glass shop by a Communist party-affiliated glassworker, who would protest vehemently to the shop owner the oppressiveness of the presence of a capitalist symbol in his workplace. Oh, well... Naess decided to make some hammer and sickle murrine just to see what would happen. Yes, there was another office trip - a Fascist party member shouted away to the owners about the injustice inherent in the appearance of this oppressive Stalinist symbol in the oven. Yes, Naess went ahead and made some swastika murrine, because he's that kind of a guy...and because he wasn't running for political office in Italy. I still have one of the capitalist murrine floating around my house someplace.

So he continued on with his slides and his stories and projected one slide on the wall that half of the glass department didn't get at first. The half that did get it groaned in disgust, and the groans became louder as this guy told his story. He was in a bit of a rush to finish a final project in grad school, and he slammed his way into and through the woodshop to do so. The teaching assistant at the shop tried to tell him to relax, but he waved her off impatiently - things to do, stuff to complete. One pass of some wood on the shop table saw, however, and something else was cut besides the wood. Everyone finally got it at that point and groaned at the huge slide of the severed thumb tip (a diagonal cut, just beneath the thumbnail) that was up on the wall. Yes, he left the hospital that day, with his thumb tip in a bottle of formaldehyde, and he brought that bottle with him to my school, and he showed some more slides of that same thumb tip propped up against some glass pieces he did ( for purposes of scale, he said), because...he's that kind of a guy.

So these days, my hands are itching to do some kind of crafting after some years away from glassworking( the last time I was actually working in front of a glory hole was February 14, 2004) . Though I have been doing loads of needlepoint and cross stitch for around seven years now, I'm thinking about jumping into the mosaic thing. It'll take cleaning out a back shed we have of detritus accumulated from former tenants, not to mention acquiring some other things like tools, glass, grout, whatever. Inertia must be overcome.

And table saws, if needed, will be handled with the utmost of care. The last thing I want to have kicking back on me is one of my ten digits.

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