It was just a momentary distraction, the slightest bump against the bench, and art became scrap.
Debbie and I had stopped into the Bella Forte Glass Studio in Edmond after dinner to watch the glass blowers work. They are happy to have people watch, and they take the time to explain what they are doing and describe how the end result should look.
This particular piece was to be a vase. We watched as the blower heated canes, small cylinders of colored glass each about the size of a pencil, fusing them together. The fused canes were carefully wrapped around a hub of glass, which was then blown into the center of the canes. More molten glass was applied, and the blower began shaping the piece.
The canes created a swirl of orange and raspberry in the glass. A slender neck took shape. They had attached the piece to a tube by its bottom in order to shape the opening at the top. There was a comment on how good the piece was looking.
Then it happened. Bump. Crash.
Sometimes all you can do is walk away, as the glassblower did. Take a few minutes. Live with the frustration and the disappointment.
It’s a familiar feeling, and one that artists and performers know all too well. Sometimes, even when you feel like you’re prepared and ready, something bumps, something crashes, and everything falls in pieces on the floor. The song that was played perfectly during warmup turns into a hot mess on stage. The speech that should have inspired leaves words behind to be swept up like the debris of broken glass.
So you walk on. You plan the next piece. You go back to the practice room. You write the next speech. After all, if you’re a glass blower, or a performer, or a public speaker, or a writer, it’s what you do.
And you wouldn’t have it any other way.