The symbolism of cracked marbles woke me in the middle of the night. Mom’s years nurturing us as Cub Scouts, Brownies, and Girl Scouts rushed in, as a recollection of our Saturday afternoon crafts sessions.[caption id="attachment_258" align="alignleft" width="229"] one of my marbles[/caption]
My brother, my friends, and I loved to play marbles. The glass orbs, made in outer space (or so I pretended) captured our imaginations as their tongues of twisted glass undulated inside the rolling ball. Mom would take us to buy these marbles and let us pick out the ones we liked the most; cat’s eyes, clear with a lick of yellow or green streaking inside; crystals, solid-colored orbs in blue, green or amber tint, perhaps containing a slight bubble flaw in the glass but otherwise perfection.
Glass was an object that drew me in. Its exquisite transparency, its playful functionality, its modern colors and sweeping patterns fascinated me the way pictures of planets and moons did. I don’t recall if one day I said something to Mom about how pretty a marble necklace would be, but suddenly we were at the craft store, choosing the glass delicacies and buying necklace clasps and chains.
Back at home, Mom began to heat a cast iron pan. “Choose your favorite marbles,” she said. Mine was a pear-green one with the signature swirl. Once the pan was hot, we heated the marbles evenly. Mom worked the timer and after four minutes we took them out and plunged them into a cold, crushed ice bath.
They crackled, they sank, the more we swirled the more cracks appeared inside the glass, small fissures creating prismic patterns until our marbles looked like gemstones.
We had bananas with chocolate syrup while the marbles dried. Once they were room temperature, Mom brought out the jewelry clasps and the special glue, and we each stuck a clasp to our favorite marble, threading the gold chain through its hole.
Cracked marbles, Mom. Objects of beauty.