What I Wear

May. 1st, 2009 09:51 am
sandandwater: (oh ew)

This is a fairly typical representation of what I wear while working in the studio. It's very hot, hazardous and does not lend itself at all to looking glamorous. I pull my hair back and then hide it under a scarf to prevent it from being singed, but also because I do perspire quite a lot and the scarf at least keeps it from mostly running into my eyes. I don't wear any jewelery or anything loose and hanging, and while not pictured here, I typically have what amounts to a men's gym sock pulled up and over the length of my left arm as it is the one that I use closest to the glory hole for gathering flux. I will also usually wear sunglasses or tinted safety goggles, depending on what it is in particular that I am working on during a given day.


Jan. 26th, 2009 09:15 am
sandandwater: (cuddle me)
Pippa sat on the cold stone floor studying her creation—if a pile of fine-grained sand, scattered and fanned over marble could be called a creation. She was thinking. Searching: for inspiration, a clue, the secret still lurking inside the silica yet to be whispered to her by the muse in her artist’s soul. It still wouldn’t come to her. The redhead waited but not with patience. Bare feet slid into the rough grit, fingers caressed the moveable surface, digging trenches and weaving patterns.

It was in there, she could sense it. There was a masterpiece waiting for her. A concept that once found would bowl her over and feed her starving, idle talent and drive her past the point of reason until Pippa managed to bring it to life. It was there, just beyond the limits of her reach. What was it, why couldn’t she find it within herself to lean forward, stretch that little bit more and take hold of it?

She clenched a fistful of sand in the palm of her hand, squeezed until her knuckles turned white and the pressure created a burning heat, a stabbing pain where the sand dug itself uncomfortably into her skin. If sheer force of will were enough to jog that part of her being loose, she’d have her image ready to work from. If only it were that easy. If only…

Pippa Kerr//Last Call//231
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
Notes: This piece takes place some months down the road from now. I'll be moving around in Pippa's timeline a bit as I tackle her leaving Rory and her time spent in Venice as she attempts to heal emotionally from events of this past August.

Sketching was not her strong suit. It wasn’t even particularly necessary with her chosen craft in most instances. She preferred to work more organically and to be as fluid with her creations as the material she shaped lent itself to be. Molten glass could be controlled and molded, but the process was delicate and time consuming when one was limited to centrifugal force and the very air in their own lungs. It became easier when other tools were added. Steel, water, blocks and casts made of metal with melting points far higher than sand flux.

This, however, needed to be precise. So Pippa sat, charcoal in one hand, gum eraser in the other and large pad of thickly woven sketch paper propped against the angled surface of the drafting table. The sketch would serve as a detailed reference, a quick visual to accompany the one in her mind, used to move into the next step of the process. From this drawing she’d create an inverted three-dimensional likeness out of dampened sand—a mold to cast her sculpture. When she thought of her intended piece, she saw it in the final stage, the way it would look when she showed it to the world. What she was doing on paper and in sand was a deconstruction of sorts, forcing her to mentally work backwards in order to move forward. It had to be perfect.

When she returned to the glass studio in Venice, Pippa wanted to give up the traditional glass blowing altogether in favor of working with casts and molds. Alessandro had a fit, argued. The Signore wouldn’t hear of it. Forbid it, in fact. It wasn’t that it was a lesser art form, it did require its own set of skills and talent but the old Italian gaffer was set in his ways and his beliefs. It was easier, she told him. Easier than trying to compensate for a now deformed hand, the missing finger and the deadened nerves. What she didn’t tell him was that it was easier than facing the memories of what she’d be able to do and being forced to compare them to what she was now capable of—and finding herself lacking. She was his prize student, la stella brillante—the brilliant star. She would not confine herself to less than she was capable of and that was final.

Except for this piece. All ready figured out were the ingredient sums: she’d tallied how much silica she’d need to mix the flux, the sodium dioxide and the lime too (to set the opacity of the material once cooled), and worked out which compounds she needed to achieve the perfect shades and hues to color the glass—gold mostly and in chloride form to get the rich and brilliant reds she imagined—required. She’d done the math and worked the chemistry. Numbers were easy; the execution would prove the challenge. She had to create it. Was driven to it, occupied by the image in her mind to the point of total distraction.

She found herself slipping her fingers into the sugar bowl at breakfast, imaging the delicate white crystals were the more durable granules of sand she could sculpt into a mold for casting. Salty silica instead of the sweet cane coating her fingers with a sticky grit. Pippa had laughed then, it seemed fitting really. Her muse craved gooey confections the way she craved the ability to pull his image out of the page, press it into wet sand, morph it into glass.

In the shower, she’d use the steam and the bar of soap against tempered doors to outline a nearly life-sized image, trying to get a feel for the enormity of what she was undertaking. It would be heavy, unwieldy at times, maybe even impossible without careful planning and the use of hands other than her own. She was grateful to have Alessandro’s studio at her disposal, his students to command and instruct. They’d have no part in the creation but they would lift, turn, carry the piece for her. These things she’d consider as hot water washed away his face just as she’d ended their romance in a torrent of hot tears.

Making her bed, pillows and blankets became construction material as Pippa debated what the base would look like. Sheets wrapped around pillows and bed posts, piled, folded, draped to give form to ideas. It had to be sturdy of course, able to withstand the weight and the stress but also compliment if not actually become part of the piece. Metal she thought then discarded. No, that wouldn’t do—not for him. Stone. Granite. Granite and glass, one supporting the other, entwined and enmeshed. The rock would be the foundation; the glass would run down the thin columns and flow over the angled base, softening it, bringing it to life with color and warmth. Out of the two would emerge her sculpture, not resting atop of it but growing out of the base—the way their relationship should have been.

Every day it was the same for her, this routine of moving through the necessities of life all the while moving closer to completing the only thing that compelled her to keep going in the first place. Her need for perfection made the process painfully slow despite the sense of urgency that pushed her forward. A relentless drive and constant hunger for something that would not be sated kept Pippa in an artistic fugue. Alessandro worried over what would happen when she reached her goal. Pippa kept working.

Pippa Kerr//927
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
Pushing herself, testing boundaries and the limits of what she could do, Pippa had been trying to find out she felt capable of these days. Besides trying to calm and stifle her anxiety she’d been going to lunch with friends, shopping with Cait, taking Mr. Beaker to the park on her own and now she was attempting something else altogether. She was back in her glass studio.

Pippa fired up the furnace and while waiting for the heat in the glory hole to reach the correct temperature, she prepared the rest of her work area. She wiped down the marver and then covered the surface in the coloring agents she had wanted to work with today. Pippa filled her water bucket, lined up her jacks and files along the workbench, selected her pontils then began to wander the rest of her shop.

She moved between the shelves lined with various pieces, occasionally touching her fingers to a vase, a set of glass pens she’d fashioned in a burst of whimsy, a lampshade. There were bowls and platters, beads and jewelry. The more interesting pieces were the small sculptures, things that were more abstract and fluid, seemingly living little works of art. Resting on a table was a solid piece of flame-red glass, about two feet tall at its highest point, a base for a work in progress. It was something for Ro, a present.

Pippa eventually went back to the lit furnace, opened the door and pulled on her tinted, mirrored sunglasses. She checked the temperature of the melt by visual inspection and the feel of the blast on her skin. The liquid glass was a searing yellow-white sea inside the furnace and just about ready for a first gather. She stood back and reached for a pontil, fingers closing around the cool steel rod with practiced ease. The familiar weight felt good as she lifted it. Welcome and natural as she brought her left hand up to close around the rod about a foot behind her right hand. She smiled. She could still do this.

Pippa continued to smile as she stepped a bit closer, angled the pontil and lowered it to the melt. Then her face faltered. Instead of merely skimming the surface of the molten glass while rotating the rod, she felt the tip grow heavy and unbalanced as it sank, dipping below the surface to submerge itself in the liquid glass. She swore. It was something a novice would do, not the mistake of a skilled master. Not her.

Angry, she withdrew the rod and threw it aside. Dangerous, yes, but she was alone in the studio and not worried about the risks of injury to anyone else. She took a steadying breath and grabbed a second pontil, repeated her grip and moved a bit more slowly. Control. She just had to exercise control. It happened again. The rod, while in motion, became unbalanced in her faulty grip. She couldn’t do this. She. Could. Not. Do. This.

It was one more thing Larch had destroyed, ruined, stolen from her. Pippa felt ill, nauseous, as she pulled the pontil from the melt, shaky as she set it down atop the steel marver. Furious as she flung her glasses from her face, she swore again, then screamed. You can’t do this. You can’t do this…The mantra beat through her head; pounded at her temples and blinded her to what she was doing as she moved across the studio. She threw the first object her hands closed around, a vase. Shattered, she reached for the next and the next, dropping some, throwing others, letting them all break against the floor.

As she continued between the shelves, glass crunching and being ground beneath her heels, Pippa systematically emptied one after the other. If she couldn’t make glass, she didn’t want the reminders of what she had been capable of here to mock her. She was so engrossed in what she was doing that she didn’t hear the studio’s heavy fire door open. The sounds of shattering glass masked his footfalls on the concrete floor. The blood pounding in her ears kept her from hearing his somewhat aghast, “What are you doing, sweet?” And her rage caused her to forget that she had asked him to meet her here, to keep her company and to serve as a second pair of hands if need be.

It wasn’t until he raised his voice and called “Pippa!” sharply that she realized she wasn’t alone. Realized that someone had witnessed her tantrum, her unseemly fit. How much had he seen? She stood stock-still for a very long moment and then the anger was back, as heated and dangerous as the molten glass in the furnace. How dare he? Pippa whirled to face him, grabbed the piece of red glass off the table and flung it with as much anger and hatred as she could muster.

Rory caught it. He caught it. The scream that had been building in her chest died and she simply stared at him, her chest rising and falling with the pounding of her heart.
sandandwater: (Default)

Signore Alessandro

I was sorting through some things and found his picture on my desk so I scanned it in before finding a picture frame for it. My dear Signore, he's taught me so much and given me so much more. I suppose it's no surprise that I've been thinking about Venice again. About making glass in his studio, with him. Even being yelled at by him--no one yells like Alessandro, he has it down to its own art form. I miss that about him. He always pushes and he never, ever lets me run. I miss that too.
sandandwater: (dreamer)
I detest feeling restless and useless on top of that.

[locked to those that know what happened]

I was sick of Cait's bedroom after a few days and now I'm sick of my entire apartment. Pretty much disgusted with wandering around Ro's as well. I want to do something, anything that resembles my normal routine and yet--I can't.

I want to work in my studio but I know better. I'd only be asking for trouble at this point and I've never been one for safety hazards when blowing glass. Too many things can go wrong if you aren't focused. It's safe to say that my mind wanders a lot lately. Any little thing sets me off and I can't seem to ignore the constant worry and fear, the feeling as if I am going to jump out of my skin at any moment.

Then there's the matter of...my hand. I don't want to look at it. It's hideous. I get nauseous every time I catch a glimpse of it. Of that side of it. If I can't look at my hands, I can't work the glass. It's really that simple. And to be honest, I'm not even sure how I'm going to be able to hold the rods and pontils, the blocks...balance is SO very essential to what I do. Did. Balance and steadiness. It's the difference between excellent artwork and a damned mess. I won't spend my time creating anything less than the forms I see in my mind's eye. I just won't.

I'm afraid to go back and find that I'm not capable of adjusting.

The same can be said of work at Last Call. Mike has said time and again that I don't have to hurry back, whenever I'm ready he'll put me on the schedule. I want to work. I miss it. I miss the staff, the regulars, even most of the music. At this point, even karaoke nights sound appealing. I know, too, that Mike's having to juggle all of the things he hates about running a bar. The things I always handle. Dealing with the vendors and suppliers, payroll and scheduling. The tedium of owning a small business. All things I can pretty much do by rote these days and I actually enjoy most of it.

But then I start thinking about all the questions people will have. The stares that I know will come. And I have no idea what to say to them, should I say anything or let the idle gossip run wild? People are going to talk no matter what, I know that but I really wish they wouldn't. Staff, the regular customers and acts, the new patrons...and it's the unknowns that frighten me too. I don't feel like I can trust anyone I don't already count as a friend.

[locked from Rory]

And the nights Breaker Street play there...they have always been my favorite nights to work. Always. You'd think that having Ro there would make me feel better, but the truth is I don't think I could bear to be in the building while they play their music. I haven't been able to listen to anything of theirs since--

I hate that I can't stand to hear Ro sing. I never realized how often he hums random tunes as he does things or sings under his breath, but he does. And it's all I can do not to scream at the sound of it. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! That's all I think when he starts and it breaks my heart as much as it turns my stomach.

I can't tell him this, I simply can't. How can I, when so much of our relationship has been built around his music, his band...he's a singer, it's what he does and it's what he's so very good at. And I'm proud of him but I just can't listen to him any more. What if I never can? And it's not that I don't think he's talented or that the band isn't amazing. Rory is and Breaker Street are and I really want to be supportive of them, I do. I just can't hear their music without remembering what he did.

I haven't even been able to make myself bring them up in casual conversation with anyone. I've tried. The words just stick in my throat. Me. The band's free PR campaign girl. And I can't find it in myself to speak about them.

What if he doesn't want to be with me if I can't share in that part of his life any more?

[/locked from Rory]

I refuse to even think about after closing. I know that Mike isn't about to let me do that alone any more. And I know Ro wouldn't let me even if Mike did. It's the thought of walking out of the bar and into the parking lot that makes my chest feel tight and I forget how to breathe. Alone or not, I'm not sure I can do it.

So where does that leave me? Not in my studio and not at work. Home. Going stir crazy.

Maybe I really should do what I was talking to Bobby about and go back to Venice for a while. I'd love to see Alessandro. I'd love to be in his studio and I know that he'd help me figure out the solution to my problems there. I've always felt safe in his capable hands and if I have to relearn anything, there is no one I'd rather have teach me. No one. Only, I don't know if I could leave Ro even for a little while. And I certainly don't know what I'd do with Mr. Beaker. I can't take him with me and subject my poor puppy to quarantine like that.

I wish someone would just tell me what to do.


Aryn, do you want to have lunch sometime this week?
sandandwater: (distraught)
"Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace... but we would be hollow... Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead." - Angelus from Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The small studio was a mess. Broken glass of every imaginable color covered the floors. Works in progress or even fully finished pieces now ruined. Destroyed by the hands that made them.

“No!” She shrieked the word like an angry child, and like a child she too was in the middle of a tantrum. “Of all the stupid, rude, inconsiderate, ridiculous…no! I’m not doing it.”

There was another crash, more shattered glass on the concrete floor of her studio.

Stubborn. Angry. Violent.

A satisfying crunch as she stamped her foot over the not quite destroyed curve of a bowl.

“He can go to Hell, the selfish, arrogant…how dare he ask me…now…after all these…NO!”

A vase went flying, smashed against the cinderblock wall.

“Arrrgh!” There weren’t words left for Pippa to express her rage, primal sounds and frustrated noises were all that spilled from her lips, tore from her throat as she swept an arm across the table. Clattering bottles, tools, powdered chemicals…they all tumbled to the floor in a resounding crash cum crunch, scattered farther as she kicked at the heap.

“I hate you!” That angry hiss was what it took for the emotional tide to turn. Tears fell, hot and stinging and she couldn’t wipe them away fast enough. Trembling hands, shaking shoulders, chest heaving as she fought against sobs. “I hate you…I hate you…I hate you…”

She sank to the floor, ignoring the jagged glass that pressed through the knee of her jeans and into her skin. Pippa’s focus was on the crumpled sheets of legal stationary. Documented requests from…she snatched the balled up paper from the floor and held them tightly to her chest. Tried to breathe. She didn’t hate him. Could never.

She hated what he didn’t do back then. Hated what he was asking now. But the man? He was someone she’d always love. Yes, he had hurt her. Broken her in ways she hadn’t known possible back then but he also gave her so much, showed her there was more to life than what she had lived. He made her stronger, strong enough to walk away to be herself.

Maybe it wasn’t love. Maybe it was gratitude. It was…something. Something she couldn’t hate him for because without him, without those experiences she wouldn’t be here now. Wouldn’t have the happiness she’d found.

As she mulled these things over, calmed herself, Pippa smoothed the pages against the cool floor. Reread them. Shook her head. No, she’d not be filling the request. She may owe him a lot but she didn’t owe him this. In this matter her obligations were to someone else entirely and Pippa wouldn’t betray her. Her, she did love.

Collected, subdued and once more the picture of propriety that people associated with Phillipa Kerr, the red headed woman stood. She looked around her studio, blinking and a bit taken aback as if this was the first time she’d noticed the destruction she’d caused. No matter, she’d clean it up, set the space to rights and no one would be the wiser.

Just as she’s always done.
sandandwater: (burning desire)
Shattered in the annealing oven. Besides being a mess to clean up, I feel like I spent my entire morning working for nothing. I think this is why I refuse to work on commission or make anything other than for myself.

Or at least, this is the excuse I like to use.
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
Don't say it's easy to follow a process // There's nothing harder than keeping a promise

(Editors – ‘Blood’)

Bene, bene. Magnifico, bella.
” Alessandro murmured in quiet approval as he stood behind Pippa, absently twisting and turning her curly red locks in his hands, tucking them into the back of her shirt to keep her hair from being further singed in the fire’s heat. He was like that, gentle and quiet when she did something right. One little mistake and he’d be screaming in her ear, gesticulating wildly and cursing her into the next decade. He had a flair for the dramatic, to say the least. “
Per favore
, Pippa…keep going, do not take the time to think, just feel it,
. Feel the pull…let gravity,
si. Si
, like that.

She’d been there, in Italy, apprenticing with this man for nearly two years. So much learned and still feeling like so much more she needed to know. She had the basics, understood the process but now came the hard part. Learning to trust her instincts, knowing when to break the rules to let creativity reign.

Faster, hurry…” He was reaching for the pipe then, not controlling, merely assisting as she spun the heavy rod. Keeping it balanced for her, his hands so much larger and stronger. Calluses thicker. His sense of timing perfected. “Look at it, Pippa!
See what you make here,
la mia stella brillante

Pippa laughed at the praise, laughed more at grin on the old man’s face as they worked in tandem, watching as the glass thinned and flared, fanned out from the centrifugal force they were creating in the sweltering studio. Faster, they turned the pontil, hand over hand hers and his, moving in sync. “
Sei pazzo, Signore !
You’re crazy!”

Later that evening, hours later, they sat on the terrazzo steps that made up the front of Alessandro’s home, drinking wine bottled from vineyards belonging to his sister in Tuscany and sharing a loaf of bread baked fresh by his neighbor. Between them sat the vessel she had been spinning. A platter of vibrant colors, the process of marvering it—rolling it over a marble slab layered in chemicals to add color to the glass, all Pippa’s own doing. She’d done it all herself: the initial gathering of molten glass, forming the first bubbled shape with breath from her own lungs, the following gathers, back and forth to the marver, reheating it in the glory hole. All he had done was watch. Watch and spin as her second pair of hands.

That had been her job for the longest time. Today, master handed over the reins to the apprentice and let her take control. And she’d done
. He was proud, she could tell by the speculative glances he kept giving the platter. It had only been in the annealing oven for a few hours, the glass so thin that it didn’t take long for it to gradually cool. Very tricky, what she had done. Avoided the stress fractures common to a piece so delicate.

Mia bella
…you have the touch. A gift. It’s not only a talent, not just a skill. A gift.
” He took her hands in his, thumbs rubbing over the rough skin of her palms before lifting each, in turn, to his lips for a tender kiss. “A gift.”

, Alessandro…thank you. I couldn’t possibly—“

“No, no. You do not thank me for this, Phillipa. You thank the Mother Mary, you thank the Holy Father. You thank these.” He lifted her hands again, squeezed them tightly. “This gift I did not give to you, you had it all along. I see it. I knew. When you came around my shop. When you with that awful American Italian asked me for work. When you didn’t cry every time I yell at you. When you get burned and you kept working. I knew,

She smiled at him then, always picking on her Italian even as his English sometimes left something to be desired. She never once commented on it, even then she opted for, “I had a good teacher.”

“The best.” Oh, that machismo. He had it in spades. He dropped one of her hands to run a finger along the rim of her glass. “This is very good. Very lovely.”

Releasing her other hand he lifted the platter and looked her right in the eye. “But is only one piece. Promise you can do it again, just the same.”

She bit her bottom lip as she returned his gaze, blue eyes fixed on dark brown. It was a challenge; she recognized it. Pippa had been flying high all evening with a sense of accomplishment but he’d never let her get too full of herself. Alessandro was a good teacher for a reason. “I promise.”

.” He let go of her platter and watched it shatter across the terrazzo, a million glimmering slivers catching the moonlight. “Tomorrow.”

“I promise.”

Pippa Kerr//Last Call//802
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
I turned this:

Into this:

What did you do this week?
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
Pippa may have spent part of Sunday afternoon with butterflies in her stomach over the prospect of spending the evening on a date with Rory Stone, lead singer of Breaker Street and currently the reason she loves her job at Last Call so much, but once she hits the glass studio and fires up the first oven she is calm as can be. The low roar of the fire, the pungent smell of basic elements being burned welcomes her, settles her nerves. She knows this place; this is her domain even more so than waiting tables at the intimate nightclub.

He’s going to meet her here and they’ll work on the promised present for his sister’s birthday. She’s actually looking forward to sharing some of this with him. Her version of magic. Pippa smiles as she takes off her jacket, strips off her jewelry and pulls her hair back into a ponytail. In jeans and a tank top she’s nearly ready to get to work, adding a kerchief over her red curls and tying it tightly. The cotton helps cut down on the inevitable sweat that beads her brow, runs into her eyes.

She opens a few windows for proper ventilation and sets up her workspace. With Rory she intends to do simple lampworking but until he gets here, she’s got something else in mind that she wants to try. Cork paddles, long metal pipes and pliers, jacks and files all line up across a long steel bench. Bucket of water by her feet and she’s ready to make her first gather in the melt.

By the time she hears the knock on the studio’s door, Pippa’s got her hands full. She’s cupped a hand around the mouth of the pipe and is blowing bubble in the molten glass on the other end. Satisfied with the size, she brings it to the steel bench, turns on the torch clamped at the side and begins the process of shaping it, rolling the pipe between her hands constantly. “Hi, Ro…”

She glances at him and smiles before turning her attention back to her work. “Want to give me a hand?”


Apr. 7th, 2008 01:40 am
sandandwater: (hot stuff)
Roaring fire and heat almost unbearable, flames licking at metal rods and molten glass. It sounds almost alive with its low grumble and crackling pops. She has sweat dripping from her brow. And down the side of her neck, too. It puddles in the small of her back. Her skin itches from sweat falling, drying on the surface. Baked back into those slender muscled arms.

The only break in her concentration as she continues to turn, spin, roll the tools of her trade is a quirking of one eyebrow. Just enough action to indicate that she’s not oblivious to her body’s response to the environment. The acrid, overpoweringly sharp smells of hot metals and burning chemicals mixing with human sweat and the occasional bit of singed hair mingle and make her want to wrinkle her nose, sneeze. But she won’t. Can’t. Her hand is well trained ignoring the impulse to reach, rub at the irritation.

There is so much discipline and control, rigidity and precision that it seems almost contrary to the fluid melt she is gathering on a hot pontil. Curving and flowing, it looks something like sugary ribbon candy as she joins it to the lip of a curved vessel already blown out and rounded. Pulls and loops it with a pair of pliers, and constantly pushing it back into a flame to keep it hot, malleable.

There now; perfection.

She switches tools again, this time a file she dips into a container of cold water then with a steady hand, brings it to the neck of her vase, touches it where warm pipe meets hot glass. A sizzle and a sharp crack as she strikes the file with a mallet and the vessel is free. Lying on an asbestos lined pad. With a practiced act of grace, she slides her hands into a pair of mitts and carries her creation to an annealing oven, the final process in cooling, curing her work.


sandandwater: (Default)

October 2009

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