Friday, July 29, 2016

Super Artisans

[Since I've had super heroes on the mind a bit, I figured that it was time to have something like this.  After all, not everyone is a hero (or villain) and not everyone wants to be.]

"You sure you're ready?" he asked.  "It hasn't been that long since the last time."

"I'm sure," she said in a way that was more defensive than she'd intended.

"It's not that I doubt you," he said.  "It's just that you, you know, do the hard part."

She nodded, then said, "I'm ready."

She took one last look around the beach to make sure it was deserted.  Then she made sand rise into the air.

When she thought she bunched it all into a swirling cloud at chest height and said, "Ok, easy part guy, start heating."

He held his hands on either side of the sand, and soon the space between his hands was rippling with heat shimmer.

When she felt the sand begin to melt, she got to work on forming it.  First she simply contracted all of it, then, once it was in a ball instead of a cloud, she got to work on squeezing and pulling the bottom into a stem.  After was a thickness she thought was right for a stem she bent and twisted it to give it a more natural look and also raised some pointless thorns along the length.

The last step was forming the top into petals.  This was the really hard part; this was what wore her out.  She had no idea how a normal glass worker would make petals, which might be why it was so difficult.  She must be doing it the hard way.

When the rose was finally finished, she let her collapse downward a bit, ending up with standing with her hands on her knees and her head bowed.  She took a deep breath.  Of course she made sure not to drop the rose.

He asked her, "Start cooling?"

She nodded without looking up.

"Ah the wonderful, wonderful experience of spending hours cooling down glass," he said.

"Yeah, well, this is where you earn your pay," she said.

"I think this is your best flower yet," he said.

"God, I hope so," she said.  "I wouldn't like to think I've gotten worse."

"Makes me feel like I'm falling behind," he said.  "You've improved so much, I'm still the same."

"Don't mope; just make sure it doesn't cool too fast."

* * *

". . . and, I don't know, I just don't see the point," he said, "I mean if--

"Stop," she said.

"What?" was his confused response.

"Hold the temperature," she said.

"Right, right."

* * *

"So you really need to just get it over with and ask him out already," she said.

"I will," he said, "I'll ask him out when I'm good and ready."

"Two things," she said.  "First, you can start dropping the temperature again.  Strain's relaxed.  Second, if you don't ask him out soon, I might."

"He's not your type," he said.

"Not my type for a long term relationship, sure," she said.  "But for a fling?  I could totally see that working."

"You wouldn't."

"Why not?" she asked.  "If you asking him out is on indefinite hold, and me asking him out never happens, then how do either of us benefit from that?"

"Do you have to manipulate me?" he asked.

"It's not manipulation," she said.  "There's a difference between, 'I won't try to get in this guy's pants because my friend is going to ask the guy to start dating soon,' and, 'I won't try to get in this guy's pants because, while my friend is never going to act on it, my friend wants to fantasize in perpetuity about asking the guy to date him.'  I'm totally willing to do the first, the second not so much."

"Alright already, I'll ask him this weekend," he said.

* * *

"Uh, it just wobbled," he said.

"Yeah, how close to done are we, do you think?" she asked.

"Not long," he said.  He wasn't even supplying heat anymore.  "Can you--"

The glass rose dropped.

He was able to catch with his left hand guide it in a loop that missed the ground.

"You know I can't hold on to it for long," he said.

"It's probably safe to set it down," she said.

"You know how well we've tended to do with 'probably'," he said.  "It's up to you."

"Can you give me a few minutes?" she asked.

"Three with my left, three with my right," he said.

"That'll do it," she said.

* * *

He tapped the floating rose, then pronounced it cool.

She brought the rose into her hand and looked it over.  It was always a source of frustration that she formed their pieces, but he was the one who got to be close to them during the process.  His heat was simply too much for her to bear.

She rolled the stem between her thumb and forefinger so she could see all sides of it.

He had been right.  It was her best yet.

"How much do you think we can get for it?" she asked.

"That depends on how long we're willing to wait before we find a buyer," he said.

She smiled.  Then she thought of something:

"You know how you were all mopey before?"

"I do not recall being mopey, " he said in a tone of voice so serious that it couldn't possibly be serious.

"You were all, 'You're getting better, I stay the same.  Woe is me,'" she said.  Before he could protest she said, "Anyway, it just occurred to me that you are getting better."  She offered him the rose and he took it.

"How am I getting better?" he asked.

"You're getting better at alchemy," she said.  "Now go turn that glass into gold.  Haggle."

He smiled.  He was well aware that she hated sales.

"Someday we have to find out how this is actually supposed to be done," he said before walking away.


So, I have no idea what glass made from beach sand would actually look like.

Sand is mostly silicon dioxide.  I could have made it so that her power only grabbed pure silicon dioxide, but that would have made glass that has really good tolerance for thermal shock.  The ability to handle thermal shock doesn't fit because I'm picturing the reason that these two are overly cautious (it would have been fine to set the rose down) as being a series of mistakes starting with learning the hard way that you can't simply shove melty glass in water to cool it.  Thus it has to be impure.

What the impurities are, and how great of a degree they come in, depends heavily on which beach they happen to be standing on.  And those impurities would supply any color it might have.

Obviously her power involves . . . earth bending, I guess you could say.  His is creating heat.  He's immune to the effects of the air he heats, but being in contact with a hot solid is a lot more difficult.  Thus he's fine being right there with air hot enough to melt glass, but actually holding on to the much cooler --almost done cooling-- rose is something he can't do for very long.

And, when you've got the two of them together, who needs a kiln or glass-working equipment?

While obviously most of the superpowered normal people are probably doing more mundane jobs ("I can teleport, I'll have a package service" "I'm an empath; I'll work in mental health, and specalize in difficulties emotional") it seemed like glass sculpture was fun example of, "I have superpowers; I can make a living."


  1. I imagine it as a cartoon, maybe anime, relatively "realistic" (but not photorealistic) in style. Or possibly a comic. I don't know. I can *sort of* see it, but I can't draw it.


    1. The superpowered people that have been on my mind are the Teen Titans.

      Here's a lineup, but it's annoying because the picture of the geokentic, which is the only one who could fit in this story, was obviously added later and badly. In particular note the relative darkness of it.

      This and this are better Terra picks. Couldn't find a decent on of her using her powers off the top of google.

      Anyway, that's where my minds been at but I didn't try on any conscious level to put any suggestions of cartoon into the above.

      So, I say again, interesting. Interesting that you saw it that way. And thank you, very much, for commenting.

  2. The heating power must include some amount of insulation too - otherwise you'd generate a massive windstorm from convection. So it's not just "heat this area", it's "heat this area and don't let much of it leak out". Maybe she's doing that.

    You can certainly turn beach sand into glass, if it's got the right minerals in it (quartz/silica), though it might well end up black or some other colour from impurities.