Authority of the Piece

It’s March when everything seems to be on the cusp of beginning.    It’s slow in the shop today.  A repair job beckons from the work bench;  I’m still in the think-it-over and develop a strategy stage – this motion I don’t get paid for, but crucial for me to go through  even though I know there will be many detours.  

I’ve labeled some pieces that I think must be removed for re-foiling. I’m waiting for that moment when it all gels – when I can say with conviction that the piece was a throw-away when it came in the door, so I can’t hurt it further; the bravery I need to start tearing the piece apart with the confidence that I will get it back together good as (better than?) new, and the right mood.  Yup, it sounds silly, but I need to be in the mood to do a repair. 

The mood can only be described as a devil-may-care sense of adventure with my mind wide open mostly because I know that whatever I have  planned  at the onset, the authority of the piece will dictate each move from beginning to end and I need to let go. 

Sometimes it is frustrating and I’ll get so wound up in the frustration that I need to put it aside for a day or a week just to back up and get a fresh look.  Then, when I’ve nearly forgotten the presence of the abandoned repair project,  I’ll look up at the work bench and see a small thing I can do, some ah-ha moment when what had been fuzzy becomes crystal clear . . . I’m hooked again.  

Building the piece back together is hardly ever the problem.  Most problems and the biggest time factors are with dismantling, getting the broken piece of glass away from the others without breaking more pieces, pulling off came soldered in many places on both sides – heating both sides of a joint with a soldering iron and pulling the came away with only two hands.  I always feel sure that some master craftsman solved all my puzzles long before I have put my unworthy head to them and would be laughing . . .but, I get it loose, figure it out, feel relieved and able to move on to the next dictation from the piece.

I repair a lot of pieces made in China and Mexico, I’ve learned to tell which country.  I used to rattle on about the levels of craftsmanship evidenced in the piece, why it broke, on and on.  Now, the only mention I make is when I give my estimate.  Sometimes I will have to say, “This will cost more to repair than what it cost to purchase it in the first place.”  My way of commenting on the source.  I’ve almost come to be able to say this without much innuendo.  Just business; customer needs to know the options.  I quit  snarking the home shopping networks and department stores who buy stained glass novelties wholesale.  If someone loves a piece of art, the only thing they want to know about it is can I fix it.

And my answer is yes.   Yes, even if I’m not absolutely sure.  Now, you know my secret.  Not such a secret, really.  Just that I’m willing to risk a bit of my reputation (as I see it) as a business person.  And that risk buys me an opportunity to indulge in this passion that has grown through me.  I really, truly like doing repairs of stained glass.  I like them because  just when I feel like I may have bitten off more than I can chew (my lifelong strategy for learning anything), something in the art will let me know which way to proceed, you could say the authority of the piece guides its repair and I am just along for the ride.


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