Object Lessons: Peace by piece

Object Lessons: Peace by Piece 

It was Christmastime, about six years ago. I was married then. The Twin Towers were already collapsed. Sabers rattled. But the Endless War in Iraq hadn’t yet started.

Who knew that my personal life was in the midst of a similar transformation? Maybe the glass head at Pier 1 Imports was an early-warning sign. But you know how we all ignore those “dummy” lights when they flash on the dashboard.

I wanted the $16 glass head. Fair angels had inspired. The ex-husband and I had seen them near the entrance at the Los Angeles County Fair. Well, I’d seen them; he glanced.

The fair officials had given bare angels to people and organizations in the community to decorate. Then the angels returned home, outfitted with new, artistic duds, which fairgoers admired on their way to art exhibits, boat sales and milking demonstrations.

Some of the angel artists decorated with decoupage. Others painted. But it was the mosaic and mirrored disco ball angels that sparked my imagination.

Stained glass has fired my imagination since I watched glass blowing at a Mexico studio as an 8-year-old. The fiery glow. The hissing furnace. The artisan giving life to his creation with a puff of breath. Later, I’d notice the light shafts shimmer through stained glass windowpanes. And I’d have to learn how to score, grind and craft for myself.

But at that moment, gazing at the angels, I was on a mosaic rip. I’d been creating steppingstones with inset stained glass. But the mosaics lacked an essential element of stained glass beauty: Light.

In the sunlight, which sets most glass art ablaze, the steppingstones were like dried agates – sometimes colorful, but lacking fiery luster.

But light danced on the angles, picking up mirrored curves, flowing locks and the sun’s intensity.

Fast-forward to Pier 1 and the glass head. The translucency of glass, instead of concrete, would play with light, not mute it. It would set it aglow, let it flow. I wanted one.

“No,” the ex-husband yelped with finality.

Why I gave in to the dogma is still a point of mystery to me. But I left the head, and the inspiration, on the shelf.

A few months later, I returned, this time with one less piece of sparkling jewelry on my left hand, and spent the $16 for my head.

I also splurged on shop time at a Riverside stained glass studio, where I shared camaraderie and conversation with a group of mostly retired-from-work-but-not-life women artists who capped each session with a sandwich and a paper cup filled with boxed wine.

They worked their glass projects while I tried to figure out how to piece together mine, which I named Cleo, after a beloved aunt and Cleopatra.

It was a quiet time, mostly, for me. I snipped glass, drew and erased lines only to draw them again, and tried to make pieces fit. And realized that all of life is like that.

You start out with big, solid pieces. Or that’s how it seems, on the surface. But those pieces break, shatter and rip apart. And then we’re presented with choices as we tidy the mess: Pick out what to keep, what to toss and how to piece it all together to create something new and, hopefully, enduring from the rubble.

One of the women, a gentle soul with smiling blue eyes and a pixie-girl bob with silvery strands of sparkling hair, made a habit of checking in on Cleo’s progress. And when I was ready, as Cleo neared completion, some six months later and I was ready to look up again, she gave me a tour of the group. All but one of the women had been married before. And all but one of the women smiled, delighted in life and sparkled with a luminous glow that only mosaics can capture.

I smiled again, too.


4 Responses

  1. I love this..have done a styrofoam head and was happy with it but the glass head which lets light shine through is my next project.

  2. Would love to see photos of your work when you complete it. A crafting tip, when working with glass on glass: Use Weldbond for your adhesive. It’s workable and gives you a little bit of time before setup when you’re putting it together, but it dries fairly quickly and the glass will stay in place. A Sharpie marker works well for the pattern, directly onto the glass head. (If you don’t like the design, just use rubbing alcohol to remove it.) Also, I like glass nippers for cutting the small pieces. Makes a tedious process a little lighter. Also, once you’ve got it all in place, use a dark mortar to secure it all in place. (A string of Christmas lights works to light it up, too.

    Happy creating. And good luck!


  3. Seems like you fully understand plenty regarding
    this specific subject and it all shows with this article, called “Object Lessons:
    Peace by piece El Camion Vacilador: Christy Lochrie”.
    Regards ,Glinda

  4. Olá, adorei extraordinariamente do seu web-blog!

    vi que o conteúdo muito bem alinhado. Tenho um blog no mesmo tema e gostaria de ver se você tem
    alguma dica para quem está começando a postar arrigos sobre isso.

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