One of my favourite things about my job (aside from the obvious - eating chocolate while I work, a sneaky studio wine if I have to work in the evening, and watching DVDs while working) is when someone wants a bespoke piece made to their heart's desire.
Sometimes the heart's desire is a little weird - "what happens if you put a V can in glass?" Sometimes it's out of my comfort zone, (yes, I have been asked to fuse a loved ones ashes. No, I didn't - I just pointed them in the direction of people who did). And sometimes I get requests that really make me think - cool! But how am I going to do that?!
The latest request was, thankfully, the last of the three - something "Fiji inspired" to immortalise a 21st birthday trip. With that brief, I went to bed thinking. I didn't sleep all night with all the thinking. By the morning the idea I had "slept on" the night before had morphed into a fully fledged Fijian beach scene disguised as a glass platter.
I launched into this thinking nothing could go wrong - feel the fear and do it anyway! Of course, nothing is ever that straight-forward, so with the very first firing I was a tad worried when my sand didn't look like at all like I imagined Fijian sand to look like. If the brief had been "Raglan inspired"... it would have been spot on.
But the things sent to try us also have a funny way of working out - as a result, four firings later I had the world's most spectacular glass sand, complete with beach pebbles. Add a funky pair of glass jandals, a silhouette of a tropical island adorned with palm trees, and you have Fiji on a plate. Literally.
So, last week was a bit of a nail biter... After a three and a half month wait, Margo had finally arrived and was wired in! As my studio is based in our normal residential house with a max power of 63A, I had endured many a stressful thought of whether or not running 40A Margo was going to blow up the house!
After she'd been given the all clear, I ramped her up and watched the meter like a hawk to make sure she was clear of the magical blow-up-the-house figure... It was therefore intriguing to observe Margo didn't make any difference to our household loading... At all. Hmmm, that seemed very odd. I ran around the house turning on heaters - yep, they put up the loading; oven, yep, that did too; other kiln - definitely. Okay... so it appeared the electrician had managed to bypass our meter...! This state of affairs would have been great for keeping the power bill down, but less great for not-blow-up-the-house watch. And as that would be an awkward end to the week we thought we better have her wired correctly - and so, with many sparky apologies, she was.
After running two short schedules to dry the kiln wash which I multi-tasked with meter watching to check her behaviour, she had her maiden voyage with real glass three nights ago. Margo is so enormous that she is only cool enough this afternoon to take the glass out (to avoid thermal shock) to inspect - of the four pieces I put in I'm happy with how she's firing. Above is a quick pic of my favourite. Onwards and upwards (or sideways) from here!
PS: Yay to not blowing-up-the-house!!