Nice Madison Bead Society Member: Have people been making glass beads for a long time?
Me: Oh yes. The technology for making glass beads has been discovered and lost dozens of times in the last several thousand years. It really started to come into its own in the 1400's in Murano, Italy. At that time, the secrets for making glass were guarded very carefully by just a few families. They wouldn't divulge the secrets of coloring glass to anyone but their closest family members. In fact, they kept the technology so secret that some transparent colors of glass were worth more than gemstones.
*quiet murmur of 'really? I didn't know that*
And then I got warmed up to my subject, and should have known better, but I continued spewing forth information...
Me: Yup, really. At the time, only a very few families in all of Italy knew how to make glass in specific colors, and they didn't make glass very quickly, so it was highly prized. But gemstones now...They had a huge number of peasants, right? Cheap labor. If you just shove enough peasants into a hole in the ground with shovels, eventually they bring you shiny rocks.
Nice Madison Bead Society Member: I... never really thought of it that way.
I could see Chris in the back of the room thinking 'I can't believe she just said that.'
Other things that I vaguely remember hearing myself say:
NMBSM: Do you ever get intimidated by the flame?
Me: When I first started out, a little bit, but once you realize that the fire is bolted to the table and it isn't going to leap out and bite you in the ankle, it's really not so bad. The flame is very focused, and doesn't throw a lot of heat sideways, so even though you're working with your fingers three inches either side of a three thousand degree flame, your hands don't really get hot. Of course, you also have to realize that the flame doesn't care whether your fingers are in it or not, it's going to continue being hot. So you do have to pay attention, but I don't find it intimidating.
NMBSM: Do you burn yourself very often?
Me: Oh no, mostly I cut myself on the end of the glass rods, the little buggers get really sharp sometimes. You get in the habit of putting the rods down so that hot end is away from you every time. And when you forget, the glass reminds you in a hurry. And I have to say, burning human smells really nasty.* I do occasionally have glass pop off the end of a rod and land on my arms**, but when that happens, it usually hasn't gotten very hot yet, and it's pretty much like a mosquito bite.
I think they forgave me for my lack of a verbal filtering system after we did a drawing at the end of the night and I gave away all of the items that I'd made as demos.
Few peektures of my new demo table (built by Chris) and one of me making a seahorse:
* Although burning moth is worse. I try to remember not to leave the studio door open when I'm working at night, the damn things fly right through the torch. They can't leave it alone. Like a moth to a....
** By 'occasionally', I really mean about every fourth rod I put into the flame, but no need to scare them off before they've had a chance to get addicted, right?