City of Destiny Featuring Eric Lipschitz, part 4

Marvin Lipofsky

THURSDAY
This is bullshit.

(Later, about eight o’clock)

OK, so I screwed up the giant clam. The whole hinge wasn’t done right. And even if it worked, it’d be too huge. The hinge would have to be so enormous just to handle the weight of the glass that it’d be an eyesore. You just take one look at the thing and it looks like a Franken-clam. Plus the colors came out all wrong. Looks like clotted piss.

(Later still, like one in the morning)

Yeah, so I threw it in the bin. I don’t think it was an overreaction. It just wasn’t good. It wasn’t even average. It sucked. I can at least make money doing average. I’ve got an order for a dozen glass pumpkins, plus a Jewish couple getting married wants me to make them a unique goblet to step on (talk about throwing away money!), and I’ve got a class booked—a group of realtors coming in tomorrow for a team-building retreat, followed by a group of Chinese tourists. I’m making money. I’m keeping busy.

Anyway, Holly’s getting good. Maybe she’s the true artist. Maybe I’m just meant to stay a craftsman. I mean, the whole idea of doing a piece that would launch me into the stratosphere, a single piece that would put me in the same league as Chihuly, as Lipofsky, as Tagliapietra…it’s pretty stupid.

Libby thinks the stuff I do at the shop is already unique & special & musem-worthy etc. She thinks I should submit it to shows. I cringe whenever she says that. It’s just basic shapes, bowls, plates, paperweights, ornaments, easy stuff. Kid’s stuff. The best are rip-offs of stuff that’s come before. I tell her the only thing cutting edge bout my work is the broken pieces.

No, that’s not totally true. The best is the kid’s stuff. The ornaments. The pumpkins. The stuff that doesn’t try to be a rip-off of anybody.

Guess that’s where I’m stuck.

At least I’m making a living at glass.

FRIDAY

I don’t believe it.

I don’t believe it.

I don’t believe it.

I don’t believe it.

I came in to the shop this morning, and there was the giant clam. Right there on the counter by the cash register. Just as I had imagined it. Just as I’d sketched it.

The colors are perfect — staggered layers of clear strips coated on the inside with teals and blues and grays, creating the effect of a rippled surface of a body of water, or of a giant clam.

The hinge is nearly invisible, tucked inside the body. And it works.

Holly made glass rings, no bigger than what you’d wear on your thumb, and affixed them to the hinge. To the pin itself, she fused more rings along its length. Except those ones are hollow. And she formed individual glass bearings to go inside the hollow ring, so the bearings press out slightly and allow the hinge to open and shut. And she lathered it with some thick lubricant, so the hinge works noiselessly, and without any danger of shattering the glass.

She did all that, perfecting the hinge and everything, and it looks flawless. A glass artifact wit moving pieces that is so natural, so easy, that you just stare at it and blink and winder, what’s the big deal, the thing looks so simple.

In a daze I walked around it a couple times. I tried opening and closing it. Within the giant clam the “tongue” arched over itself voluptuously, with a series of whimsical nested air bubbles inside. It was slightly indented at the center where it crested, so one could rest another, smaller object on it. Case in point: there was a half-folded, handwritten note inside.

From Holly, I guessed.

VERY CLEVER.
THING ALMOST BIT ME.
HOW MUCH?
—CHIHULY

The signature was unmistakable. It must be a prank, I’m thinking. But he’s been known to come in from time to time. I mean, his studio’s in Seattle.

I called Holly at home. She was still asleep, of course.

“Holly,” I say really slow and even, “was Dale Chihuly in our shop yesterday?”

“I dunno. Wait. He the guy with the eye patch?”

“Yes.”

“Then yeah. He was diggin’ that clam. Heh—no pun intended. Listen, could you spot me forty bucks until next Wednesday? I need to get over to WorkSource for a job-training session, and I need gas money.”

Yeah. So that’s how it went. Holly finished the masterpiece that was supposed to be mine, and that same day none other than Dale Chihuly walks in off the street to make an offer on it. This from a sister who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about glass art. Who is always one foot out the door. Who is a genius.

I should have seen this shit coming a mile away.

SATURDAY
I quit Humpday Mayhem. Anthony took it real well: he had some surprising news of his own—Aftermath got signed to Sub Pop.

I also started a side business. Well, decided to start one, anyway. The studio and gallery aren’t going anywhere, but I’ve decided to give up on trying to be some great artiste. There’s enough genius in our family already. She just needs a good agent.

Already made my first sale, too.

To Dale Chihuly, one giant clam. One four-ounce tube of grease. Four thousand four hundred dollars and no cents.

END.