Inspiration Like Cutting Glass

[repost from 2012]

My dad and I shared the house in Reno with a woman named Katie who was one of the waitresses at dad’s restaurant and I pretty much worshipped her.  She was funny and quirky and talented.  She introduced me to carrot juice and hot springs.  She had a Volkswagen bug and explained to me about the engine being in the back.  She was the epitome of single-girl-in-the-70s as far as I was concerned.  I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

Katie made stained glass windows and sold them as a side gig.  Like with all things Katie, I was fascinated.  She taught me how to use the soldering iron and showed me how to cut the glass, but didn’t actually let me do it.  (I was 8 after all.)

Our dining room was converted into her workshop with a big work table pushed up against the windows.  She stood while she worked and I would sit on my knees on a chair I’d drag in from the kitchen so I could see the table.   As I remember it now, I hear the scraping noise the glass cutter made, see curves of different colored glass fused together with melted lead.  Long feminine fingers with chunky rings piecing together puzzles that made beautiful sparkling images from her imagination.

Inspiration isn’t always something obvious or noticeable, it isn’t even always something we’re aware of.  Inspiration doesn’t always have a big impact, sometimes it’s sublte seeping through in a little trickle here and there.

I doodle when I take notes and have for as long as I can remember taking notes.  It’s how I remember whatever is being discussed.  I’ve pulled out notes from highschool and been able to remember what the professor was saying or what a friend was doing to distract me by looking at a certain part of the doodle.

The doodle is a repetitive pattern made up of a shape that I subdivide into smaller pieces with curving uneven strokes of the pen.  The shape changes, but the way I divide it, the method, is the same.  Sometimes I color in some of the pieces.

I was looking at a note I’d doodled in a meeting a while ago and realized it’s Katie’s stained glass I’ve been drawing for a couple of decades.

Categories: Personal Essay

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