To make a glass butterfly

Start twenty-five years ago, at least...

Start twenty-five years ago,
at least. Heat your furnace
to 1140ºC, add glass to crucible
and wait till molten.

Over next two years,
open furnace door, insert rod,
rotate in crucible and remove,
gobbet of glass glowing on tip.
Repeat till mastered.

Learn to tell jacks from callipers,
tweezers from shears,
the role and uses of a blowtorch.
How frits and powders,
chips, grits, and metal leaf
will add colour to the molten form.

Everything has its place.
The glassmaker’s chair that has not changed
for centuries, the pad of damp newspaper
laid over the palm, which permits the roll
and working of a piece in safety.

Train the eye to gauge how much life
is left in a setting creation,
the seconds or minutes before
it must return, once more
to soften in the furnace.

Twenty-five years on,
the customer asks for a butterfly,
in glass.
You are ready now.
You may begin.

© Steve Pottinger

written at Stourbridge Glass Museum on 18th April 2022 for Allister Malcolm, glassmaker