Christmas in July

I tried something a little different this summer…I wrote a Christmas story.

Writing a seasonal story is always tricky for an author. You don’t have time to write the story and then send it through the editing process, get a cover made, do marketing, etc. during the actual holiday. So I wrote my story in June and submitted it for publication in July.

It’s about a glass blower who’s asked to recreate a very specific Christmas ornament for a customer.

Ethan Carson wants to give his mother the best Christmas ever while she’s visiting him at college. He’s got the tree, he’s got the family decorations, but his widowed mother’s favorite ornament, the one his late father bought on their honeymoon, is broken. Glassblower Nico Kazan owns a gallery located across the street from the cafe where Ethan works. Each morning when he makes the coffee run for his shop he yearns to ask Ethan out. When Ethan brings the broken ornament to Nico and requests that he recreate it, Nico has a hard decision ahead of him. Should he accept the impossible task to get closer to Ethan or find a new coffee shop to patronize?
The Hot Shop

To research my story, I spent hours online watching YouTube videos, reading safety guidelines of glass blowing studios (the place where glass is blown and shaped is called a “hot shop”) and generally hung out at the live stream of the Museum of Glass (https://museumofglass.org/glassmaking/live-from-the-hot-shop) where I marveled at the enormous talent of their artists.

The Glory Hole

But after writing the novella, I wanted to get a little more hands-on experience before I settled into edits. So I started looking for hot shops I could visit. The closest I found was Orbix Hot Glass in Fort Payne, Alabama. I grabbed a friend who was up for a little adventure (fellow writer Eliza Hunter) and the two of us set out on a road trip to experience hot glass close-up! The excellent artists at Orbix, Eric Harper and Lori Cummings helped us both make Christmas ornaments. That’s a picture of Eric and the hot shop on the left. It was steamy (and not very Christmasy) but the shop had doors open on both sides so a nice breeze came through. And the heat off the furnace is a dry heat so not unbearable.

Beside the furnace where the molten glass is kept, another feature of a hot shop is the “glory hole”. Since glass hardens as it cools, an artist often needs to reheat it to keep it malleable. So you stick your glass covered pole in the glory hole. And I know exactly how that sounds but at 2000 degrees you do not want to stick any body parts in there. LOL!

Blowing the perfect Christmas ornament

 

Once you’ve “gathered” glass on a pole, to make an ornament you roll it in colored glass frit (granulated glass) until it’s all over the clear glass blob on the end of your pipe. It goes in the glory hole briefly to encourage the colored glass to melt into the clear glass. Then the artist (known as a “gaffer”) sits down at the gaffer bench to shape the piece. In my case, this was when I got to blow air through the pipe to make the ornament. The artist keeps turning the pole so the glass keeps its shape and pinches the end near the pipe so that it remains an orb.

Making a hook

Then at the perfect size it’s broken off the pipe. Another dollop of clear glass is plopped on top to make the hook to hang it by. And Voila! A Christmas ornament is created!

I had tons of fun helping to make a Christmas ornament out of glass. And I hope my smidgen of experience will add just a hint of authenticity to my story. Stay tuned this Christmas for a brand new novella and a special “made by Aidee” Christmas ornament giveaway!!!!

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