I’m SUPPOSED to be working. Instead, I’m petting crystal, which either means I’m a glassist who’s finally gone over the edge…or that the nice delivery man just dropped off a big honkin’ shipment of Gaffer lead crystal.

Lordee, these billets are gorgeous. How could you possibly chop them up?

I’m gearing up for two months of nearly constant firing in about three different kilns, probably 250 pounds of lead crystal and soda-lime glass. I’ll pick up the soda-lime locally, over the next week or so, but the Gaffer has to be flown in from New Zealand (via Seattle) so I ordered early to make sure it got here on time.

The day the Gaffer arrives is always a holiday. Since I’m human, I take an hour or three out to pet the glass, try it at different angles of light, and photograph it, endlessly.

I’m resisting getting out the big cameras and lenses and studio lights. I’ve got too much to do.

Now, I can get down on Gaffer for not providing enough technical information. I can fuss at them for not making paler tints of some absolutely stunning colors (Pale Lagoon and Pale Copper Blue, which get awfully dark at more than three or four inches thick, come to mind).

I can grit my teeth at trying to get the glass cutter to stay on track when I’m scoring the stuff. Growl when I have to deal with that damn slick-smooth roundness that slides all over the kiln when you’re loading the mold.

But boy, Gaffer knew what they were doing when they made cabochon billets. There’s a reason the first shaped gemstones were cabochons (besides the fact that nobody knew how to facet yet): Nothing, but nothing, shows off the beautiful transparency as well as a deeply, crystalline roundness.

You could stick Gaffer billets on a pedestal, call ’em art and they’d probably sell. I give them as presents and call ’em paperweights. People love them. I loaned (LOANED) a couple of Semillons to my mom, to stick in the sun and admire. She won’t give them back.

OTOH, paperweights are all I’ll have if I don’t get back down to the studio and finish up those mothermolds and waxes. They’re not going to make themselves, ya know…

I never get this worked up over raw materials for pate de verre; powdered glass just isn’t that arresting unless you’re a pastry chef or just deeply into powdered sugar. But transparent billets? The time I save dumping billets into a reservoir instead of carefully packing powder layers into the mold is probably lost with all this glasspetting. There must be a name for my fascination with this stuff.

Vitreophily, maybe?