Exploding Glass and Other Lessons

Recently, a memory came up on my Facebook of things I’ve learned from beadmaking/lampworking. I posted it about 2 years ago. This is how the list goes:

  1. If a tool or glass has touched the fire… it’s not safe to touch (especially with your mouth) even if it was just in the fire for a second.
  2. Sometimes it’s best to just swear at the glass and walk away.
  3. The fuel always runs out at the worst possible time.
  4. If you don’t protect everything, you will burn something (carpet, table, clothes…).
  5. Sometimes it’s not working because the world wants you to be happy, just accept that.
  6. Some colors suck more than others.
  7. Some colors pretend to be one color but are really another.
  8. Glass likes slow change… not fast or whippy and spinny … this applies to all parts of the process.

I still like my list two years later. All those rules are rules that I learned from experience. Most, but not all, have tragic stories behind them. Some of these mistakes I still make two years later but, I’m still learning everyday. 

But the thing is, I probably could have learned some of these things from someone else’s experience. It’s a fault of mine that I don’t like asking for help and once I commit to something… I commit to it fully. So that leads to a lot of struggle that my friends don’t see. When I first started learning to lampwork, a lot of people praised me for good work. A lot of people made fun that things come easily for me and that I’m good at everything. But what I don’t post about often is the frustrated, crying, mess I am when every single piece of glass I try to slowly warm up shocks and pieces go flying, and hey I melted my pajama pants to my legs because I probably should have worn something safer. Then, since I haven’t had a lot of experience with working with fire, I would pick up the mandrel or a piece of glass still hot because ahhh it’s burning the carpet! Then my fingers are burning and I drop it back down because better the carpet than my hands… Then finally, my partner soothing me by reminding me that I can’t just be good at something immediately, these things take practice and time. And I want to quit. Forever. But I can’t.. Or won’t. I start over again and I keep trying until something works. And that’s the thing I post on Facebook: the final thing that worked. 

So, I have been working on reaching out for help in different areas so I can learn from other people’s mistakes. I’ve also been working on sharing my mistakes so others can learn from me. I don’t just do this from dangerous on fire crafts, but scribal arts, fiber arts, and others as well. 

The thing that drew me to the SCA is that everyone is willing to help everyone succeed. If you want to learn to do something… There is likely someone more than eager to help, you just have to ask around. I know it’s hard to do, trust me I know. But sometimes the hard things are the most rewarding.