Cory and David, sons of Zach and Jake Thomas, are staying with a craftsman in Lower Windfallow. They have been watching him create a table for his daughter, Jade. She and Pax’l have become friends with the cousins…
Cory and David could hardly wait next morning until the chores were done and they were back in the workshop. Krill sat at the workbench where the materials were laid out, with a table, the same size as Jade’s in front of him. He would glance up at his template from time to time but everything was done freehand with no tracing or measuring.
“Can everyone do this kind of work, Pax?” David asked in a whisper.
“No, my dad is known for his artwork. He’s made a lot of stuff for the palace in Windemere as well as most of the newer artwork at Skye.”
Individual petals were cut from pale sapphire with a diamond blade. Krill knew just where to tap the gems to flake them off in the shapes he needed. Cory was amazed to see the petals darker blue at the center to duplicate the natural coloring. “How did you do that?” he asked Krill.
Krill looked up, obviously surprised to see the boys still there. “I’m sorry, Cory, when I get into my work I forget what’s going on.” He turned to the petals. “See how there are variations in the coloring of this stone? I just flake off pieces that incorporate the colors I want in the picture.”
When the flowers and leaves had been cut they were positioned on the tabletop and the artist took heavy silver wire, cut it to a proper length and curved the trailing stems. Soon the flowers and foliage had been reproduced on the worktable. At this point, Krill moved to a round table made of black wood and obviously shaped from a single log, since it was one piece from top to bottom. It had a slightly dished top with a ledge about an inch high and stood about waist height to Krill. A mallet with a head made of the same wood lay upon it.
“This is the ‘marble-working table’,” he told the boys. “It is made of rockwood, the hardest, densest wood we grow on Windfallow,. This is the only wood that can hold up to working marble.” He tapped the marble with the mallet and it broke into several pieces. Then, he began tapping harder until the pieces became smaller and smaller, finally turning into the consistency of rock salt. Using a brush and small dustpan, he picked up the marble sand and put it in a container. Twice more he repeated the exercise, once with blue marble and once with green.
“Now the fun begins!” he said. “But I need a steady hand and a good eye, so let’s have lunch before we do any more.”
As David and Cory ate lunch, they became aware of the furniture in the house. The subtle blend of wood and stone had been so natural their eyes had been fooled into thinking the furniture was an extension of the outdoors. Now a chair was noticed for its form, a table for the pattern so delicately inlaid upon it. That afternoon they were to see how this was done by a master craftsman.
First, Krill mixed the three containers of marble with a clear liquid that produced a heavy, malleable mix. He poured the mixture onto various portions of Jade’s tabletop filling it almost to the top of the rim. “This marbling will remain soft long enough to fill in the design,” he told the boys as he worked.
“What is that rim around the inside made of?” asked David.
“That is a non-heat conducting metal,” explained Krill. “You’ll see why it is necessary later.”
When he had the swirls of color to his liking, he placed the silver wire on top and tapped it gently with a small mallet. When it was even with the top of the marble he took tweezers and began picking up petals and leaves placing them along the wire and tapping them in place. Soon the design in the picture was duplicated on the tabletop.
“But how do you make it smooth?” asked Cory.
“Like this.” Krill picked up what appeared to be a lump of pale amber. He gave it to Cory. Cory’s hand sagged beneath the weight of the object. “That’s gold, Cory. We need to take it outside where Sare has the furnace heated.”
Krill’s wife, Sare, was tending an apparatus that David thought looked like a kind of barbeque grill. However, it was made of crystal and had a series of pipes fitted with more crystals. After Krill put the gold in the center of the furnace, he stepped back and Sare realigned the pipes and crystals to direct sunlight onto it.
“Here,” she produced four pairs of glasses the lenses of which were black, opaque crystal. Jade and Pax put theirs on immediately and the earthlings followed suit. At first they could see nothing. Then, a brilliant light began to grow in the general direction of the furnace. Soon the light was so bright that it lit the whole area where they were standing. David could see Sare and Krill were also wearing glasses and the light was coming from the lump of gold sitting in the center of the furnace. “This works on the same principal as the ovens in our homes,” Krill explained, “only this one gets much hotter!”
Krill had two pairs of tongs in heavily gloved hands and he motioned for Pax to bring something over to him. Pax sat the new table beside his father and David and Cory watched in awe as the artist picked up the blazing gold with both tongs and began to manipulate it. Slowly the lump became flattened like a pizza and, as Krill kept turning it, it became more and more transparent. When it was the right size, he lowered it to the tabletop in one smooth motion.
The epoxy holding the marble, gems and silver together kept the design from shifting and the gold settled onto it like a layer of transparent glass. Krill was tapping the gold layer with wooden mallets, smoothing and finishing the surface. “Come away now, children and let it cool.”
Cory realized he’d been holding his breath while Krill worked the white hot metal and now he began to breathe again and knew as he saw the smiles of delight on the faces of those around him that they, too, were overcome with joy. Suddenly he remembered a passage from the Bible. “And the streets were of pure gold like transparent glass…” He looked at David. “We’re seeing it!” he whispered to his cousin. “We’re really seeing it!”