Another brilliant piece by Holly Lipschitz.
She’s been making glass art for all of two months now. I taught her how. She’s already done fused glass, some molds, some solid-working, some blown plates and bowls. I started her as my punty-bitch (as I like to call them), shielding me, sweeping, and opening and closing doors to the glory hole and furnace.
I was a generous teacher. I had her do some starts, gathering up the molten glass from the furnace well using the punty and then handing it off to me. A couple weeks of that and she got impatient, so I had her turn pole, following my lead (I was really doing the turning. Until a few weeks in anyway, when I realized she was turning it and letting me think I was turning it). So by the end of the first month she was making little bowls and plates and ball ornaments on her own, with just me or Galen assisting.
Galen commented on her being a quick study and all, but I said that’s just Holly. She’s always been like that. Really, she’s the closest thing to a genius as I’ve ever known. Her gears always spin at nine thousand RPM, and usually that’s what prevents her from fitting in to society. Dad’s kind of like that, too: always gets the wrong address to the party, but damned if they ain’t always there before everyone else. Of course, Dad’s party took him to Sedona to work in crystals and Reiki, and Holly just stayed in bumfuck unincorporated Tacoma, living the dream as a white trash elitist and welfare whore.
But she’s always been a quick study.
The stars she’s been selling are five-pointed ornaments, about six- to eight inches wide, of varying colors. Always transparent. Never any sign of fusing—they look like they were molded, but she figured out how to blow the individual points and attach them so that they keep a very geometric shape and don’t look like they’re made from different pieces. She goes in through an open point and opens holes in the other points, snip snip snip snip, then pulls out and pinches that last point shut and sticks her back in the glory hole for just a second or two so the interior holes open up and any trace of a seam melts away. Then she takes it out and uses the tongs to shape the hard edges. I swear it looks like folded metal, like pewter or something.
Anyway, today she did something new. I showed up to the shop at 9:00 to open. I was a bit early because I wanted to get some concept work done on the hinge for my own clam. And Holly was already there—I had given her the keys last week so she could help open or close in a pinch (Chris was cool with that, he likes Holly and can handle her intensity. He’s married to Natasha after all).
“Hey Eric, check this out,” she said—no good morning or nothing—and she showed me her latest.
Instead of a somewhat flattened star with five points, she did a completely three-dimensional-looking round star with, I dunno, like twenty points. There are all these different colors, mostly greens and blues, but there’s cohesion between them, and they blend from each point into the body of the star as if the thing was all made from one piece. I don’t get how she did that. Or why she did it with so many separate pieces: it would have been easier just to blow a bubble and pinch out the points of the star.
“Hey, that’s pretty good,” I said. “When did you do that?”
“Last night. This morning. Whatever, I couldn’t sleep.”
“You were here all night?” I asked.
“I couldn’t sleep,” she said again. I was mad, but I let it slide. I figured she’s had a rougher life than me, and I decided to cut her some slack. Our mom and stepfather Gerry live just over in Lakewood, and they’re not rich or anything but Gerry manufactures and sells these trinkets to wholesalers and to the military and makes a decent living, so he’s always been supportive sending Holly an occasional check. Well yeah, so the recession hit and the checks became more infrequent and now here’s Holly knocking at her younger brother’s door. Me, who lives in Hilltop in a shitty little apartment next to a rental equipment lot and who barely saves any money. But she sees me as being well off because I own a business (co-own, I remind her; I bought half of it from Chris and Natasha) and make rent each month.
And who am I to say no to my sis? So I couldn’t just give her money I didn’t have, but I could give her a low-paying job at the studio and shop. Libby thinks it’s great what I’m doing.
Whatever, anyway, I’m getting to know my sister better. We’ve lived within miles of each other for years, but never hung out together much. Now I see her almost every day.
She has no ambition but to remain white trash and in Tacoma her whole life, which I get the feeling she doesn’t see lasting past forty.
At the rate she’s going though, her career as a famous glass artist will launch before I ever get out of craftsman mode. Not that I’m competing. It’s just…