It was with this notion in mind that I decided to write a series of fantasy tales about women artisans. Glassblowing, with its intrinsic beauty and connection to alchemy (and because it was an art I knew nothing about) felt like the perfect place to begin. Besides, I was quite sure there had to be more to the art form than sticking a blob of molten glass on a pipe and blowing.
Research is where I began my search for the details of setting and character that I needed to take my story seed and make it blossom. I knew nothing about the history of glass, but I quickly uncovered fascinating details that were beyond anything that I could have created out of thin air.
I don’t want to spoil the story, but I was totally unprepared for the similarity between the freedoms modern day women enjoy and those experienced by woman glassblowers during the early years of the
Because glass was the foundation of the
This research into glass working and
Now that I had the time period and the main character I moved on to learning about the art itself.
Armed with a newly learned and very basic idea of how glass is worked and a mental list of questions I wanted to ask, I drove to
In my short visit to Ziemke Glassblowing I learned more than I ever could have ever hoped for.
Glassblower, Terry Pagel was working that day. He is not only an amazing artist, but also has a true love of his craft and is a vault of knowledge. He talked about the history of Venetian glassblowing from an insider’s point of view, about early alchemy used to create clear class and other early trade secrets. But beyond that, he gave me a glassblower’s perspective on how writers often misrepresent glassblowing to a laughable degree. Then he did the most amazing thing: he and his assistant created a heart from molten glass while I watched.
I left with my mind overflowing with ideas. Five minutes into my drive home, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I pulled my car over to the side of the road and I wrote the glassblowing scene for “The Braiding”. Watching and talking to Terry Pagel put me into a writer’s “state of magic” and at the same time had allowed me to feel (as much as a non-glassblower can) like I was actually holding the tools and feeling the heat.
So if the history in “The Braiding” feels true and what happens when Iseau takes up her tools feels right, it’s because to a great extent they are accurate. And personally, I like to think that the magic in the story is nothing more than a magnification of what any person experiences when they focus on their chosen profession, relax and let their mind slip into a hypnotic state.
Here’s a link to Ziemke Glassblowing Studio—enjoy.
You can find another of my woman artisan tales, “Suck of Clay, Whir of Wheel,” at AnthologyBuilder