Chapter 15

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“So those were the first urns?” asked Abby.

“Oh no.  He made urns back in Fremont, that’s how he got the commission,” said Will, “but it was a small part of his business.  He made a lot of salad bowls and cups, practical things people could use.  My Dad said he had a good contract making clay insulators when they ran the first electric from the dam through Fremont, less then a penny a piece, but a fair amount of money at that time.  But the lake business changed everything.”

Abby faced Will, “I never knew.”

“Yeah, well, I guess I told your brother.”

Abby turned her back to Will again and prodded the tea bags.  Michael had been the protégé, the obligatory male apprentice in the Bellen line of clay artisans that went back farther than Will’s grandfather, all the way back to northern Italy as far as she knew, and Will would be the last in the tradition.  That was made clear to Abby when Will stood above Michaels casket.

Not because Abby did not know her way around the Bellen studio.  That is where Abby and her brother spent their childhood.  Her earliest memories were playing with clay while her father worked.  Her father had made a child-size kick wheel Abby was able to spin with skill and ease before she could read or write.  Michael, however, had the benefit of Will’s mentorship.  Will would take Michael with him around the studio and teach him about the craft.  Abby would eventually always learn from Michael what their father had taught him.  Michael loved to show off any bit of knowledge or new technique to his sister.  Michael would spend as much time as he could to be sure Abby learned the new skill and in trade Abby would teach him the skills she learned from her apprenticeship with their Mother.

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