fragments of an attempted writing.

on failed transfigurations...

The baby pictured died ten days after the bomb was dropped.

Foregoing my usual tradition to have clams on my birthday this year as it is just too damn hot.  Worked this morning in the furnace for my two bags of peanuts and the thrill of watching my masters' pockets get lined with more gold.  Had a long talk with Andrew though.  He is one of the few who still works full time there.  It's a shit job but chances are it's his only shot at a $15 an hour job.  He's around 50 now and told me he would stay at the shop until his first heart attack or stroke.  But after that he would be done, unlike those "crazy sonsabitches here" who stay on after heart attacks or strokes.  Then again, his idea of "done" involves getting some state aid that, from the looks of things now, is likely not going to be around when he needs it.  Andrew has been a useful mule to his masters - a steady worker over decades in filthy, brutally hot, dangerous environs.  They've cut his pay, his benefits, the number of days off a year, and more, but the thing that still irks him the most is the thing he used to always bring up back when I was foreman - the years he had to work in the spray room and the company wouldn't buy him a mask.  That was before OSHA had us put the big vents in the spray room we have now and have sprayers wear a certain mask (this came about after OSHA got an "anonymous" phone call -- fortunately this came after a pathetic and disgruntled worker had been fired -- the wrongly assumed culprit -- so there was not the usual witch hunt).  His lungs are now shit because of those unmasked, unvented spraying years, Andrew says.  They can take his money but they shouldn't have taken his lungs, he says.  But then a shrug and he laughs about it.  We talked a bit about when the shop had its best chance to go union.  Hindsight's 20/20, as they say.

When I first started working at the shop years ago and found myself stationed at a workbench next to Andrew, Andrew noted that I had a "Bible name" (I go by my first name at work, the middle name Owen is used by family and friends).  "You have a Bible name, so God will protect you here," Andrew said, "You'll need it."  I later learned that among his siblings (those sharing his father, a killer who himself was killed after fathering a score of children from a pentangle of women), those with Bible names had managed to stay alive and sane.  I've worked with two of Andrew's brothers and met a couple more, and the talisman seems to be as effective as Andrew suggests.


  1. Today's your birthday? Mine too.

  2. That last that a candle or a lightbulb? Which-ever it is, the light is beautiful! Do you have another image of it that shows the shape and construction of it more clearly? Is there a site with your lamps and other things?

    I lived for many years in a very small cabin in the woods with candles and oil lamps for illumination. Over time I collected some a few great old lanterns; a carriage lantern with mirror reflectors and a small simple one that lit my way up the rocky path on moonless nights. Your lamp is magnificent! M. James

  3. I should have commented on the anniversary of the bombs. The lamp is fitting for those who died in 1945 and for the people in the vicinity of Fukushima now.

    Today more devastation from power plant designs partly courtesy of GE that failed at every level. A mess of enormous proportions that no one knows how to contain. Not much in the news these days aside

    M. James.

  4. M. James,

    Thanks. It's an old prototype I made years ago that never went production. I have it around somewhere. Its overall length is probably around 26" as I recall. The lamp is electric but could just as easily be flame. Seeded glass with V inversion panes on the side and open at the bottom. The flat sheet brass top cap overlays the pattern of the glass body so think of a rectangle with inward V's cut into each end.

    It's a problematic light for production because the likelihood of glass breakage is high and replacing the glass on this light is a bit of a pain, plus the light is more labor intensive than it looks to make. But I liked the photometric characteristics of this light too. For about a year or so I was really into that and with every light I made then I was concerned primarily with how it would throw light. Now my days of trying to design lights are over and I just putz around with the odd custom lighting job, most of them tediously mundane.


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