Sharon could smell smoke in the air, but wasn’t worried. The fire had been reported in Calistoga, over 15 miles away. The Nugent family, Sharon and Chris, with twin sons Oliver and Simon, older sons Edward and Henry, and 2 dogs, lived in the Coffey Park section of Santa Rosa, CA.
Prior to the fires and as part of their home schooling, the twin boys had travelled multiple times over 40 miles to take glass art classes and summer camps offered at I Made It! Glass Creations Art Studio in San Rafael. In one of these camps, the boys each created fused glass wind chimes for their home, to be placed outside of the boys’ bedroom. The glass pieces were purposely positioned far apart so they would look great, but not actually chime or be noisy.
On October 8, 2017, the wind became awful, waking Sharon in the middle of the night. They became so strong and gusty that for the first time, the wind chimes began loudly chiming, rousing the boys from their sleep.
Around 2:00 a.m. in the morning, a loud explosion drove everyone from their beds, and shortly thereafter a policeman rapped sharply on the door telling them that they had only five minutes to get out. Huge embers were blowing in the wind as the fire raced toward their house. Frantically, they gathered what they could – important documents, computers, jewelry, a prized book collection, some clothes, and left behind everything else thinking they would be back in a few hours.
Piling the family of six and 2 dogs into their four seat VW CC (there larger car was in the shop having repairs), the family raced for their lives through the fire that was engulfing them.
The next day Chris and Sharon hiked back to the sober realization that their home was a pile of gray ash and all a lifetime of treasured belongings were gone. The following day the whole family was able to return to what remained of their home, the only home the twin boys had ever known. As they sifted through the ash, almost ghostlike, they saw glimpses of bright color shining amongst the gray ash. They quickly realized that these were pieces of colored glass that were from the fused glass wind chimes the boys had created in summer camp at I Made It! Glass Creations Art Studio. The glass was shattered into very different shapes and colors, but was clearly glass created in a much happier time. These pieces became a sign of hope for the boys, whose lives, just like the glass pieces created in a time of joy, had become forever altered by the fire – and survived!
With these glass pieces being one of a few items that survived the fire, Sharon and the twins brought a plain paper bag filled with several pieces to show Lynn at I Made It! Glass Creations Art Studio. Overwhelmed by their story, Lynn suggested trying to re-fuse one piece of the glass, all the while not committing to a positive outcome of re-fusing glass that had been through such an intense fire. Much to her surprise, the re-fused glass was beautiful and with the exception of a little ash in a couple pieces, looked as if it had never been through the fire.
The collaborative decision was made to refuse all of the shattered glass shards, repurposing them into new glass items of choice for each member of the Nugent family. Cufflinks, a glass dish and pendant necklaces all went family members to take forward into their new life, in their new home.
Repurposing the broken glass pieces was healing for the family. As one of the boys eloquently stated “Just because it’s broken doesn’t mean it has to stay broken.”
The Nugent family is currently rebuilding their home and looks forward to moving into it in the coming months. To learn more about glass artist Lynn Rovelstad and I Made It! Glass Creations Art Studio in San Rafael, CA, visit website at www.IMadeitGlass.com.
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