Making Colored Light
A female was born into the house of Curufinwë. After seven sons and one grandson, Fëanáro finally had a girl to spoil. He was at a total loss. Since her mother-name, Helyanwë, meant rainbow, he made a gift for her comprised with multiple pieces of colored glass suspended from branches of metal. When the light of the Trees shone through her windows, the glass cast a rainbow of moving lights across her bedroom walls. She was entranced and would lie still for hours, watching the colors and the lights.
As she grew older, she started looking at the items that her family members made. She wondered if she could make things also, and started asking her father and brother questions. When they asked her what she wanted to make, though, her response was always, “I want to make light – multi-colored light. How do I make light?”
But her father and brother had no answers for her.
Finally she approached her grandfather, Fëanáro. “Haru, please teach me how to make colored light?” she asked after dinner one night when the family was gathered in the late hours of the day.
“Colored light?” he questioned. “Explain to me what you mean, child.”
She happily ran for her sketch slates and scrap paper pages with designs all over them. She showed him her drawings and designs of insect life and geometric patterns, the work of a child’s hand, but with the promise of future artistry. The images were divided into smaller sections, and she explained that she envisioned transparent glass colors for each of the sections with light transmitted through them to illuminate the images.
He nodded. “Come to the forge after lunch tomorrow and bring this slate with you,” he said, choosing one design from the stack of slates and pages. “I’ll explain the basics of what you want to learn. But you will have to be older before I can allow you to work at the glass furnace; it is hard and dangerous work. I can get you started on designs and how to make colors, though.”
She nodded, happily, getting onto her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek and then starting to run back to her room with her slates and papers. As she turned in the doorway to wish everyone a good night, she saw her grandfather relaxing back into his chair, his fingers steepled, obviously deep in thought.
On the next day, directly after lunch, she arrived at the forge and was escorted to her grandfather’s private work area.
“Did you remember to bring your slate, little one?” her grandfather asked. She nodded in response, her eyes darting all over the forge, watching the activities of the elves and hearing the hammers and the bellows. Her eyes were wide and she was trying to watch everything at the same time.
“Come with me,” he held his hand out for her to grasp. “I want to show you what is going on in the forge, show you know where you can wander, and where you cannot.” He walked her through the forge area, showing her the various types of work that were ongoing – jewelry, armor and weapons, and finally, glassworks. She stood in front of the elves working with glass as if she was planted.
Squatting down so that he was closer to her height, and giving her a smile and a fond gaze, he began to explain the process of glass blowing, the glory hole, the various marvers and shapers, the punty rods, and the other specialized tools. As he explained each step, he pointed out the activity or the appropriate tool and showed her how it was being used by the glassworkers. She soaked up the information like a sponge. Then she turned to her grandfather.
“Haru, you said I can’t work at the glass furnace. So what can I do to make my colored light?”
“There is one more place I wanted to show you, but it is in a separate room. Right over here, child, through this doorway.” He led her through a doorway to a well-lit room where several elves were painting metal with what looked like colored sand. Over in a far corner, a smaller fire was being directed via a blowpipe onto a piece of metal that had been painted with the colored sand, and the granules were melting into transparent, glassy glory over the carved surface of the metal.
“I know that this is not quite what you wanted to learn, but this is one part of working with glass that you will be able to do.” He smiled and continued. “I can’t allow you to do the torch work for another year or so, but you can do the glass painting. Also, I will teach you the alchemical formulas you will need to know so that you can make your own colors of glass.”
“And next year?” she asked, firmly backing him into a commitment.
* * * * *
She smiled through the tears of her memory as she made a colorful mobile, similar to what her beloved grandfather had made for her. Idril had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy and she wanted to gift him with wonder, the way that she had been. As she pierced and threaded the multiple pieces of glass, tears rolled down her cheeks for the family now missing from her life; perhaps until the breaking of Arda. At least she had her ability to make colored light, and with each piece of colored glass she worked with, she sent a prayer to Eru for mercy for her family who she missed so much.
A/N Haru – (Quenya) Grandfather