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red hot love
July 17, 2014

the last weekend's super moon has come and gone, but my mind continues to return to it. there's the sheer wonder of this unique full moon, appearing larger than other moons, shining bright with reds and oranges. this moon illuminated the sky with an ego that stole the show from the rest of the night sky's beauty: its overpowering hue made me forget about the stars, the constellations, the planets that blanket a normal night sky. on this night, the sky was the moon's. indeed, the moon owned the universe.

full moons affect us in peculiar ways. just ask any schoolteacher why his young students cannot sit still; listen to the doctor explain why strange happenings fill her hospital rooms; or think about those nights you toss and turn in bed. it's the full moon, this teacher, doctor, and you think of during these abnormal times.

so when i heard that glassybaby reds are different this time of year with the humid summer days, i immediately thought about the moon. the moon plays with our balance, our energy, our chi; the humid days play with the glassybaby hue.

glass artist and glassybaby expert raya friday helped me understand that we're not the only ones who are affected by the greater environment we live in. raya was the first to explain to me the science behind the striking two-step glassybaby, and now she was there to guide me again, this time helping me understand how the humidity changes the reds.

"reds are notoriously finicky" she began, adding that "even though they are intended to be heated up to over 1800 degrees, they have a tendency to burn." She helped me understand that burning is tied closely to reduction, the process of heating glass in a low oxygen environment. an artist is burning, or reducing the colors of the original dye as she brings a glassybaby to life. low oxygen means low pressure, and the materials deep within the glass float to the surface when heated in this environment. with the summertime comes higher temperatures and higher humidity, and raya explained that this leads to more reducing. so glassybaby reds, whose affected ingredient is cadmium, appear as they do in the picture that sits atop these words: mighty!

i have always known these glassblowers to be artists, but listening to raya speak about the reds made me think about how she and her fellow artists have mastered their craft by also being scientists. understanding the environment throughout the year, the glassblowers read and respect the ever-changing conditions, creating glassybaby that give us all strength, or touch us in our own unique ways.

"think about how wild it would be if we had a hot shop in space, or on mt. everest, or even in death valley," raya told me, her excitement contagious.

so come see the reds yourself in madrona, bellevue, university village or in san francisco. strike up a conversation with a glassblower (be sure to use "reduction" and "cadmium" to show off your new knowledge!).

take some comfort the next time the super moon returns in august and something funny happens, knowing that we aren't the only ones who are affected by this greater universe we call home!

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