Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bald on Top

Today I made a serendipitous wrong turn getting off I-74 -- it's been under construction the entire time I've lived in Peoria, so I get lost a lot because I don't really understand how it's supposed to work when it's not under construction -- and I drove past Hiram Toraason's Glassworks while trying to wend my way back to my intended route. (I'd give you a link but dude doesn't have his website up yet. You can, however, see Jeremie's work through a link on the left there - she also works at his studio.)

I hadn't seen Hiram in a while so I dropped in because it's the warmest place in Peoria with the thirty-billion-degree glass furnaces (I can see Hiram e-mailing me now to correct me - I think it's a 2,000-degree furnace, whatever. It's hot.) and Peoria's been friggin' cold since spring started with the biggest snowstorm we've had all winter.

I was lucky enough to arrive right as he and two apprentices were settling in to work on ornaments, plain round balls of glass with different colors and patterns. They made ball after ball, taking the raw melty glass, adding color, reheating, adding more color, and then blowing it up to ball-size. It was so effortless, and it was neat to watch the different colors come to life, from looking murky or invisible when the glass was a 2,000-degree lump, to brightening into life as the ball expanded and cooled.

The blow sticks they use are really long, and you can only hold the end, so you have to get your arms up pretty far to get the "bottom" of the ball (on the very end of the stick) into the colored glass, otherwise, the balls end up with a bald spot - although really, bald on the bottom, not the top. This struck me as funny, because they did sort-of look like little tonsured monks when they had the bald spots, and Hiram insisted this was blog-worthy humor.

Which it is, although I suppose you have to actually see the little bald glass-monk to get it (ergo, you ought to go watch Hiram work). But it also made me think of the other bald comment I heard the other day, a French phrase for the uncircumcised male genitalia: le petit chauve au col roule, a.k.a. "the little baldy in a turtleneck."


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