Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Quest: Part II

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there was a second place that was a "must see" while I was in Murano.

It was the studio of Pino Signoretto, an Italian Master of glass. Mostly known for his intricate glass sculptures, Pino is often commissioned to do custom work.

This is the story of Pino's Studio:

As I left the home of Dino Tedeschi, with my new Jacks in hand, I set out for Pino's Studio. I just wanted to see it, but hoped for a tour. That alone would have been memorable.

(This was much easier to find, as I had passed it twice while searching for Dino's)

As I stood outside the iron gates, I could see through the courtyard, and into his studio. A few people were milling about, but I wasn't certain if one of them was Pino (this was in July, and it was possible that he was in the US, teaching a class).

I rang the doorbell.

Everyone inside stopped what they were doing, and looked out, over the courtyard at me.

Soon after, a young woman arrived at the gate. She was American (hooray!). Her name was Amber, and she was Pino's Assistant.

I introducted myself, and asked if it would be possible to get a tour of Pino's studio. She was friendly and welcoming, and said that they were done working for the day, and if I returned the next day, I could watch him work.


Sure thing. "I'll be back", I said, calmly.

I returned to the Villa in Venice, broke the news to my cousins that I would be unable to accompany them to the mainland the next day, as I had "better plans." And they plans were much, much better.

The next day, I arrive at Pino's, and I'm met, once again by Amber. She bring me inside, introduces me to some of Pino's assistants, and then introduces me to Pino. His English is not very good, but it's better than Dino's (thankfully). We have a limited conversation about who I am, where I'm from, etc....and we smile, and nod (a lot).

"somebody pinch me", is all I can think

As they prepare to start working, Amber takes me on a tour of the studio and gallery. I'm amazed, to say the least. And still in shock, a bit. I'll be honest. None of this was sinking in.

We return to the Studio, where Pino had started working on a sculpture. He is so skilled, it is awe inspiring. He is working on a small scale, very intricate sculpture. It requires precise movements, excellent control, exact temperature and a quick hand....and makes it look effortless.

Over an hour later, he's finished his sculpture. It is stunning. I ask if I can take a picture of Pino with it, before it gets put into the cooling oven. He agrees.....and stands up, holding the punty rod, with the finished piece attached to the end.

I snap a picture.

He moves to sit back at his work bench (where he is seated in this photo), and as he sits down, he hits the end of the punty rod on the bench, sending a shock wave through the punty rod. The finished sculpture fall to the floor and shatters.



It's not saveable. None of it. It's in a million (or so it seemed) pieces on the floor. The studio is silent, I'm shaking, and Pino just walks away, speechless.

*this was all my fault* is all I can think. Great. Just great. Now what do I do? Run away? Change my name? Cry?

Amber looks at me, sees the fear in my eyes, and tells me it's okay. I apologize profusely.

The next 20 minutes or so are just a blur......I think I've blacked it out of my memory. I decide that I've done enough damage for the day, and should head back to Venice. She takes me outside so I can say good-bye and thank you (and of course, "I'm sorry") to Pino.

I apologize again........he looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says "eets ok. Eet happenz".

I say "I know. It happens to me a lot." And he laughs.



He invites me to an Opening for a commissioned piece that night in Venice.

*clearly, he doesn't hate me, not even a little*

I meet up with Pino, Amber and a few others later that night for the Gallery Opening. It was pretty darn cool.

A few hours later, and a few glasses of wine later, I found myself sitting outside a cafe, with a handful of people (Pino, Amber, and others) drinking wine and listening to them share stories and jokes. Lots of jokes. I tried out some of my Italian (that I learned from a 365 "learn Italian" calendar.... not what I would recommend.) They laughed.

So, there I was, drinking wine and laughing with Pino.......and 24 hours earlier, I had hoped to get a tour of his studio. Just a tour. And 8 hours earlier, I was watching the remains of a demolished sculpture be swept into the trash.


Eight years later, as I retell the story, I still feel like I have to pinch myself. And it's one of the reasons why I pursued Glass. How could I not? In 48 hours, I had experienced more than I could have imagined. The Jacks, the book, the studio, the untimely death of the sculpture, and the was 100% inspiration.

And I learned that even the best make mistakes, recover from them, and move on to make something else.

What a day.


HanamiGallery said...

wow sounds like an awesome time!!!

Bri said...

Wow. Amazing! Those italians. You never know what's going to happen. I had a similar-ish experience in Murano but not nearly as cool.