Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Glass Works


At the corner of our dining room stood a Murano glass lamp-stand. Its intricate glass flowers and leaves were dull and opaque with dust, and its brass base had long lost its lustre.

My excuse was that the smell of metal polish gets up my nose and gives me a migraine.

It had been a wedding gift to my parents in the early 1950’s; one of those intricate, fragile jigsaw puzzles that need to be taken apart to be cleaned.

I was idly zapping across television channels when a documentary caught my attention. There, centre stage, was a floor lamp exactly like ours. A gaffer was then shown using a blowpipe to inflate a blob of molten glass into a parison (a glass bubble).

The globular shape was then revolved at the end of the pipe while finishing touches were added to it. Very soon it had cooled into one of the many sections rather like large fragile beads of a necklace, that are threaded through the central pole of the lamp.

The leaves and flowers were made differently. Gobbets of semi-molten glass were flattened, elongated, shaped with tong-like shears, and given the characteristic half-twist. Each was placed alongside a model on the workbench and measured for accuracy.

Leaves and flowers must be of a standard size. This makes a lamp that it a work of art and not a raggedy mix-and-match affair. It is also a practical measure, since if they were not of the same size, the leaves and flowers would not sit properly in their sockets. As I watched the whole process, fascinated, I couldn’t help glancing at the forsaken relative of the lamp on the television screen out of the corner of my eye.

Sometimes, our realities and what the media shows as such are two very different things. We may hanker after jewellery, vehicles, furniture, clothes, or other possessions, not realizing that what we hold in our hands – the values of family, life, compassion, and love – are nicer, more important, and more precious than any gilded lilies dangled before our eyes to tempt us. It is so much wiser to want what we have, than to have what we want.

In the corner of our dining room stands a stunning hand-crafted Murano lamp-stand. The transparent, pink-tipped flowers and leaves now glisten with cleanliness and care, and the brass base has regained its burnished patina.

And I’m not worried, my headache will subside.

Prism Reflections

Refractions of light from a prism:
a heterogeneous, multi-faceted rainbow,
splitting the spectrum.
Transparency separating the light
into its component elements.
It’s not the brightest, fastest, or keenest ray
that makes the enchantment happen,
but it strikes the right place at the right time.
Help me be a prism to my companions;
to help them discern what is vital,
but mostly to help them focus on what’s essential.

Tanja Cilia


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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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