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. “
, Pippa…keep going, do not take the time to think, just feel it,
. Feel the pull…let gravity,
, 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 !
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.
…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.”
Pippa Kerr//Last Call//802