Flashback Glassworking With Hessel

Saiyin visits her friend for some basic glassblowing lessons.

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on March 18th, 2018, 11:55 am

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18th Autumn 517 AV


The house was quiet in the autumn morning, where the early light filtered through the narrow panes of the window and flickered across Saiyin's sleeping face. She lay in her bed with her hair spread across her pillow from her erratic twists and turns in the night. A slight smile drifted across her lips as she began to wake. A bird, outside, sang a pretty song in the willow tree. Two women's voices in chattering conversation passed by outside, their voices brightly pitched but muffled all the same. In her little bubble, Saiyin began to stir and stretch.

She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and spent the next half bell preparing herself for her morning's trip to visit Hessel. They'd met a few days previously in the city, a chance encounter, and the Eypharian had invited her around. The young woman had been looking forward to it ever since, and now that the day had actually arrived she was even more enthusiastic. Hessel was, or used to be, her step-mother, but now she was simply a good friend. She was a fascinating person, and one that Saiya generally admired, for she was skilled and full of wisdom and stories of her travels. "Saiyin," she would say, "Do you want to hear the story of the sand fights?" Or she would regale her with information instead, about glass, about travelling, about her language. All of it was intriguing to Saiyin, who had somewhat of a fascination with the city of the Eypharians and the scorching hot land they came from.

But first she had to cook herself something to eat. She hadn't eaten since midday yesterday, and her stomach was complaining. There was a tub of oats and just enough goat's milk to make porridge, so she began preparing the fireplace. Morning's sunshine poured in through the window and the woman took a moment to appreciate the glistening back of the ocean that she could just see in the distance, before turning back to the task at hand. Her father had been the one to teach her how to light a fire. On first glance it was a simplistic task, but young Saiya had found it frustratingly difficult until her da had placed his hands over hers and guided her flame to the right part dry tinder. After that he'd sat back and prompted her when and how to place the logs. "You have to start off small, Saiya, then you can get bigger logs. But you must never stifle the fire, for she's a tricky beast, and won't play your game if you deprive her of air. She needs to breathe, just like you and me."

That tidbit of knowledge had impressed the young Saiyin mightily. After all, who would've known that the fire was actually a person? She'd grown older and realised it was just fancy speak, but the lesson had stuck in her mind. Now, she placed dry tinder on the fireplace and arranged it so that there were enough gaps to let air into the heart of the fire. She was still terrible at building a fire, most of the time she had to relight it a few times before the wood would catch and burn adequately. But at least she knew what she was supposed to be doing, even if it didn't quite work each time.

She took the flint and tinder that lay beside the fire in its usual place, and struck it hard and outwards so that the spark would fly to the tinder. Her aim was off, so she tried again and again until she conjured a bright spark that spat into the dry wood. Now she was reminded of another of her da's lessons. His voice, distant but warm like sunshine, spoke in her head. "Now, remember that this fire's only a babby. It's a poorly babby too! You need to breathe it to life. That's right Saiya, blow into the tinder. Not too hard so as to blow it out, but not too gentle that the babby doesn't get enough air and suffocates." Her fire flickered with flame, but although it was a promising start she knew she had to follow her da's lesson and so she blew steadily but gently into the small bundle of tinder.

The flames flickered agitatedly, and she scrambled to place a slightly larger log onto the baby fire. She waited to see whether it would catch whilst starting to pour oats into her cooking pot and putting the last of the goat's milk in as well. To her relief, the log had started to burn, and so she fed it a few more loose, dry twigs to aid it on and put another log of the same size to the side of the fire, ready to be added to the flame once the fire had grown a little.

With that started, the woman placed the cooking pot over the fire and splashed cold water from the bowl over her face. Her hair, she noted with dismay, was a tangled mess not too far removed from a bird's nest. It would be a pain, but she had to brush it. She got up and walked through the house to reach her bedroom, looking for her comb. Finally she found it and moved back to the kitchen. The fire was steady and the cooking pot felt hot to the touch. It would be a little while yet that she'd be able to eat her morning's meal, but in the meantime she had another task to attend to.
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on March 18th, 2018, 12:12 pm

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Saiyin stared at the comb, and the comb stared back at her. She suspected that it looked at her rather malevolently, but laughed away that particularly silly thought and picked the damn thing up somewhat reluctantly nevertheless. The woman pulled her hair forwards so that she could brush it over her shoulders, and started working at the tips so that the knots could work their way out. It was an annoying task. Sometimes she wondered whether she could get away with cutting her hair off completely, but then the colder seasons came around and she was glad of the extra warmth on her head. She combed and kept a watchful eye on the fire, but all seemed to be progressing smoothly. Her hair was not neat, but it was not a tangled mess any more, so she laid the comb aside and took over cooking once more.

She poked the fire and was rewarded with a hearty-sounding spit, so she gingerly lifted the lid and dipped her finger into the porridge within. The sun's light was rising higher in the sky and she was well aware of that fact, so she was relieved to find that although the porridge was not yet to temperature, it was warm and getting thicker. She looked around for a spoon and when she found one stirred it through the porridge. It would be lumpy, but she wasn't fussed by the quality. Her stomach wasn't either - it grumbled loudly and sent a pang of hunger through her.

If Saiyin had a different kind of story, she might be feeding herself with something better than glorified gruel, in a silent kitchen populated only by herself. Her parents were both dead, a fact that was inescapable. She had been distraught by their deaths, one after the other, any daughter would be miserable after their parents were gone from the world. For a long, dark while she had suffered in a pit of grief. That time felt alien to her now, in the crisp autumn's sunshine that poured through her kitchen window, but she couldn't deny that it was a part of her. She sometimes thought about what would have happened if neither of her parents had acted the way they had. Would they be better off, or simply in the same state she was in now? She had less that one hundred kinas to her name, and she did not have enough to have three meals a day. But even in her idle daydreams of what could have been, she didn't get frustrated about the what ifs. Even when life had been relatively normal, the Sesr family had never been wealthy, and Saiyin was accustomed to that fact. Although her meal of thin porridge would be just enough to fill her and nothing more, she didn't dream of a plate filled with produce and sustenance because she was content with what she had. Would she work to better her life? Of course. But for now, the young woman was glad to have the piping hot porridge in her.

She ate quietly and quickly and let the fire die down whilst she ate. It flickered gently and slowly until it was just a pile of glowing embers, then she poured a little water over and listened to the hissing as it went out. She poured a little more water into the cooking pot but didn't wash it just yet. It was time to leave the house and visit Hessel. Washing would have to wait.
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on March 25th, 2018, 5:24 pm

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Title
"Speech"


The walk to Hessel's was, to her rough estimations, about twenty-five chimes from her own house. The path that lead there was steeply inclined and littered with okomo droppings, as the sacred animals clambered wherever they felt like across the Okomo Estates. It was, after all, in the name. Saiyin, like most Lhavitians, felt a surprisingly strong connection to the great beasts. Their sturdy make-up and their ability to clamber wherever they so fancied was one her parents had admired too, especially her mother. Before they had sold many of their possessions, Amythystia had owned a beautifully carved statue of an okomo that had stood proudly her parent's bed. Throughout her childhood she had played with this okomo, trit-trotting it along the kitchen floor whilst listening to her father's distracted rambling, or the softly bubbling cooking pot as her mother made dinner. She used to stroke its head for luck when her mother went wandering through the wilderness, hoping she'd come back okay. On the fateful day she hadn't come back, Saiyin had put the wooden okomo back on top of the shelf and refused to touch or even look at it. After all, its adventurous spirit was what had infected Amythystia and eventually caused her death, though this thought was a silly one in hindsight.

When the okomo statue had been sold however, Saiyin regretted not holding it in her hands one last time. Life had moved on since those grey days and the young woman did not hold the despondency in her heart any longer, but sometimes on days like these she wondered where that statue had ended up and hoped it had found a good home. She smiled to think some child very much like her could be playing with it right now, trotting it along his or her kitchen floor, daydreaming about mountains and adventures and mythical okomo that flew, as she had done once many years ago.

Preoccupied with these thoughts, Saiyin's pleasant walk through the sighing grasses of the Estate grounds passed with a breeze and soon enough Hessel's little hothouse-fronted home came into view, with the woman stood in front of it waving enthusiastically at the approaching Saiyin. She approached with a grin plastered wide across her face. The two women greeted each other as they drew closer, and Hessel pulled Saiyin into a tight embrace. The Eypharian had once been her step-mother, back when her father had been alive. Nowadays, she was simply glad to call her a friend. Hessel pulled back and looked her over appraisingly.
"I hope you're doing well Saiya! You look well today, and isn't it a great morning? Come on, come inside lovely."

She followed through into the hothouse and couldn't help but let out a snort of laughter at the state of it. Hessel was a wonderful woman, brilliant with craftwork and well-travelled. But when it came to gardening, her skills fell short and it showed. The hothouse was a feature that some of the homes at the Okomo Estates had, and Saiyin had seen some fabulous ones where blooming, vibrant plants pushed against the steamed-up glass and offered tantalising scents through the open window. She wished she had one herself even, but her plot was suited more to open skies. But Hessel's... She looked around and tried to keep her eyes innocent as the Eypharian turned around with amused suspicion plastered across her tanned features. The hothouse had a thin path leading to the front door, but all around the planting beds were overgrown with weeds and littered with broken chunks of glass and stray lumps of half-burnt wood that were the spoils of the furnace she housed within. It was certainly not pretty, but Saiyin said nothing and merely grinned at her friend, absolutely sure that it was a lot worse than the last time she'd visited. One day, she would come round and fix it up for her, but today they were going to be working in an entirely different field.

They pushed through into the house, and Saiyin walked over to pour herself a cup of water from the pitcher. The two women stood quietly in the kitchen for a moment. Saiyin spoke first.
"What shall we work on today Hes? I've been thinking it over... We should try colours soon. Do you know how to make those?"

Hessel paused and placed her own cup on the table thoughtfully. "I don't think we could do that today Saiya. From what I remember, we'd need some different kind of sand mixture, maybe even metals. Where I learnt in Ahnatep, the master had a metal or a rock I cannot remember which, that was called cobalt. He used to make the most fabulously blue glass I've ever seen, it was beautiful. But other than that, I don't have a clue how to get it! That's a shame, isn't it?" The woman pondered on this fresh piece of knowledge. Their own glass making utilised local sand that produced a cloudy, almost clear material, but they each dreamt of producing clearer sand. Hessel had explained that it required philtering and maybe even a different source of sand, but neither of them were particularly good at philtering and further investigation would be needed to find a better source of the raw goods. For now, they were content with the dusty-coloured hand they were dealt, but Saiyin was aching to stretch her glassmaking muscles.
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on March 25th, 2018, 5:59 pm

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"Speech"


After finishing her cup of water and feeling refreshed from it, the two women fell into chatter and walked through into the boiling hot furnace room. Hessel's workshop was only big enough for a small furnace but whereas the garden was a shambles, the workshop was pristine. Tools were arranged neatly on the marble slab that made up the work bench, and the floor was swept clean with a bristly brush that was propped up in the corner. Thankfully, the woman had also left a window open and a door that opened out onto a small patch of land where she kept a barrel of coal. Saiyin went out to it and shovelled up some more to pile into the sweltering furnace. The sharp scent of the powdery black rock hit her nose like a drug and she breathed in the scent of it, appreciating the smell of their industry.

Hessel was already at work, checking the crucible of molten glass that puddled in the furnace. Saiyin looked at her, and she nodded with a satisfaction that meant they were ready to work. The two of them had decided they would make vases, a set for a friend of Hessel's whose birthday celebration was coming up. She had her collection of glassblowing equipment with her and she went over to the pack and brought out the blowing pipe. They usually took it in turns and so Hessel motioned to the woman for her to begin. Saiyin was excited and the roar of the heat as she opened the furnace door only intensified it. Inside, a crucible of molten, glowing glass lay waiting. She stuck the blow pipe into the centre and began to twist it and turn it as she layered glass onto the end. Her hands shimmied the pipe around and around until the weight on the end was enough and she could just about see through the blistering waves of heat and squinted eyes that she had enough to work with.

Quickly, whilst holding the pipe carefully, she shut the furnace door with a bang. Now came the difficult part, and that excitement turned into butterflies in her stomach. Saiyin had spent many seasons making a mess of the upcoming glasswork practice. Glassblowing required speed and precision. She was practised for sure, and had enough experience under her belt to make a simple vase, but even still she couldn't help but worry that she would take too long and the glass would break or form in a way she didn't want. Hessel smiled at her as she rested the blow pipe on the edge of the slab and began to blow into the end. The look of friendship was enough to reassure her that it would be alright even if she did mess up. Over the months, Hessel's dismissal of her accidents had brought about a peace of mind and she found that she had began to improve recently, which could only help matters.

She looked up from blowing to see the glass beginning to swell, but to her dismay the whole blob was also beginning to wilt like a dead flower. Hurriedly, Saiyin began to turn the blow pipe grasped blindly for a jack to gently push the glowing glass upwards again so that it wouldn't become wonky. Where was the jack? Her eyes darted to the side and there they were, just a few centimetres from her fingertips. She stretched and picked them up and ever so carefully pushed the glass upwards. The multiple burns on her hands only went to show that being careful was imperative, and she was relieved when she began to blow it again, the jack held firmly in her grip.
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on April 7th, 2018, 10:45 am

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"Speech"


The glass was glowing red, but even though it had only been in the furnace a few moments ago, Saiyin noticed that it was cooling as the colour began to fade. It was common knowledge that hot things grew cooler once they were out of direct heat, but until now she had never really thought of that cooling effect as a visual effect too, although instinctively she had been seeing it and reacting to it since she'd started glassblowing with Hessel. Still, it did no good to dawdle, and Saiyin stopped blowing air into the pipe and took the glass back to the furnace as she continued to twist the pipe.

She peered inside with immense fascination, gazing at the way the glass picked up its colour once again, going from dark, cherry red to a fierce, beautiful orange colour. Her face was hot and tight, even with the furnace door half-closed. It was time again. With one more twist of the blowpipe, Saiyin removed the rudimentary vase from inside the stomach of the furnace and moved back over to the workbench. Hessel was sat down at the work bench drawing a design on a sheet of paper for her vase, but Saiyin wasn't good at putting designs down on paper, no matter how many times Hessel tried to encourage her to make a basic sketch beforehand.

That frustrated her, in a way, although she tried not to let it bother her. Drawing didn't come naturally, charcoal or pen always felt strange and unbalanced in her hand, and most of her sketches got ignored anyway in favour of her imagination at the time. She didn't think there was anything particularly wrong with the way she did things, but in a sense she could see how having a design would be useful, especially for larger projects. You could only hold so much information in your head before it had to be written down. Most of the time she disagreed with that opinion. Books were all well and good, and fascinating creations, but what good was knowledge when it wasn't being used? Was it not rather more fascinating to learn with someone else? The woman glanced over to Hessel, whose head was still bent over as she drew. The Eypharian was a good friend, a good teacher, and good company. Saiyin preferred to actually talk to people rather than peer at squiggly lines on a page. Maybe there was also a small part of her that was afraid of books, of the knowledge they held within, and the madnesses they could unlock in people like her parents. If that was the case, she didn't realise it. Mostly, Saiyin was content enough to simply talk and work. She focussed, and looked down the length of the blowpipe, lifting it once more to her lips.

The vase was half-inflated. She reckoned it could be blown a little more. She gusted a fresh breath into her lungs, and gradually let it out as she twisted the pipe around. She had put the jacks down, and that was good because now she needed the soffieta and unlike her friend she only had two hands. Hessel spoke, "It's to your left, Saiya." She smiled through the pipe, and shifted her eyes around to spot the conical tool lying on the side to her left just as Hessel had said.

The next part was tricky, especially so because she was still getting to grips with it. The soffieta had a small handle that kept her hands away from the scorching hot glass, and she fastened her fingers round that and brought it up to the furthest point of the glass. She kept blowing and turning, but now the soffieta pushed against the glass bubble. It was cooling again, but she didn't stop, not yet. Not until she made an opening. Saiyin could feel the glass resisting her, so she blew a little harder trying not to feel faint as she pushed more air from her lungs.

Finally she spotted that the soffieta had done what she had intended it to do. The other end of the vase was now open, making the rim of the vase. It was bulbous still, but getting cooler all the time. Saiyin wondered if she could continue, just a little more, but sensibility won out. The vase went back into the furnace to warm it up, and Saiyin waited patiently, keeping the blowpipe turning in her calloused hands. Over her shoulder, she tossed a question to her friend. "Are you enjoying being a dancer, Hess?"
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on April 7th, 2018, 11:13 am

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"Speech"


The Eypharian grinned. The two women shared an unusual bond in that Hessel had once been Saiyin's step-mother for a time, although the role had been a short one and Saiyin had already reached adulthood. Still, she was glad the younger woman had remained a friend. Hessel cared a great deal for the oblivious woman, not only because she had got to know her during a difficult time, but because they shared a kinship and thirst for learning. Hessel had been many things during her life, and it was only recently she'd picked up dancing. Her mind was full of the art form, and as such she was simply bursting with anecdotes and excitement for the subject.

Saiyin listened to her as she talked about a dance involving sticks, the high jumps and elaborate twists of another dance style that sounded vaguely like fighting to her, and listened as of Hessel spoke happily about the feeling of fulfilment at the end of a dancing session. It didn't make much sense to her, but her friend's excitement was catchy and she found herself wondering if she was any sort of dancer. She vowed to find out about it at some point, but for now the vase demanded her attention and she guiltily began to work on it again.

The soffieta was brought forwards again. She placed it into the gap and pushed a little further as she blew the orangey-yellow glass. Gods, where were the jacks? She mentally cursed, having misplaced the tweezers once again. She looked around and finally spotted them. She lunged her hand across the work bench and held them aloft. Of course, in the confusion she managed to lose momentum and as such the vase was beginning to deform. She gritted her teeth with irritation, but didn't let it stop her. The glass was still piping hot, so she grabbed the jacks as tightly as she dared and began to pull the lip of the vase. She knew she wanted it to have a long stem. Right now, the bubbly glass was almost round with a hole in the top. It was not an attractive shape. Flowers would fall over inside it. No, the stem needed to be longer, and the jacks would help her.

She pulled the glass outwards, away from herself. It was like playing with toffee, or treacle, but somehow more difficult than that. She struggled to make a neat, straight line and she extended the glass upwards. The jacks were large enough to be clunky and get in the way of the vase neck, so she was going incredibly carefully so as not to poke a hole or knock it off course. Even as it was, she managed to accidentally nudge the now-extended neck a small amount so that there was a light dent.

However, although the glass was cooling too much and too fast, Saiyin was almost finished. Her heart was in her throat, as it was every time she got to this stage of the process. Time was her commodity and she didn't have much of it left to get it right. Hessel had stopped working now, seeing that Saiyin would need a hand, and she opened the smallest door at the other end of the furnace to reveal the cooling oven. It was critical, Saiyin knew from the many cracked glasses, that she get this next part right.

She walked over to the oven, still carrying the jacks tightly in her clenched fist. She willed the glass vase not to drop and carried it as still as she could, trying to not let the walking motion of her legs affect the levelness of her arm. The vase sat on a blob of glass at the end of the blowpipe, looking more and more solid by the chime. Hessel was holding the door open. Saiyin took the jacks and clenched them around the glass at the very tip of the blowpipe, where the glass was holding on. She went gradually, being as slow and careful as she could. Was that enough pressure?

She held the vase upsidedown and rested the lip against the bottom of the oven whilst Hessel held it gently with leather mitts to protect her hands. "Go on Saiyin, I think you've got it." She nodded, and without stopping to think too deeply about it, sharply tapped the jacks against the blowpipe twice. With a satisfying crack, the pipe detached from the bottom of the vase and the whole thing was free from her influence. With a beaming grin, she glanced over at Hessel, who nodded in appreciation. "That should be a good one, Saiyin! Well done." She smiled at the praise, and took one last look at her creation before shutting the oven door. Jubilation at another successful project flooded her, and for the rest of the day she would look at the world with noted optimism, riding the wave of happiness from a job relatively well done.
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Glassworking With Hessel

Postby Saiyin on April 7th, 2018, 11:14 am

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Grades Awarded

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Saiyin


Skills
Wilderness Survival: +2
Observation: +4
Cosmetology: +1
Cooking: +2
Socialisation: +2
Glassblowing: +3

Lores
Hessel: A good friend, with many stories
Hessel: Ex-step-mother
Eypharians: 6-armed people from the desert
Wilderness Survival: Taught how to build fire by father
Wilderness Survival: Fire needs air as well as fuel
Wilderness Survival: Putting a small fire out
Cooking: Porridge
Cosmetology: How to brush hair
Cooking: Basic stirring technique
Parents: Both dead
Saiyin: Generally content with her situation
Saiyin: Not good at drawing
Saiyin: Learning through doing rather than reading
Okomo: Free reign across the Okomo Estates
Mother: Once owned an okomo statue
Glassblowing: Cobalt makes blue glass
Glassblowing: Simple blowpipe technique
Glassblowing: Simple soffieta use
Glassblowing: Colour of glass indicates temperature
Glassblowing: Reheating glass before it cools
Glassblowing: Importance of maintaining movement of glasswork in progress
Glassblowing: Basic vase design
Glassblowing: How to release the finished product from the blowpipe

Notes
Text


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Saiyin
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