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One afternoon, a man walked into my workshop.
(I was making glass mushrooms, psilocybes most likely)
He asked if I could make him a 'cone beaker'.

I asked him what that might be, and he showed me a drawing of an early glass drinking vessel, with a more or less conical shape, complete with rounded pointy bottom.

I said it would be awkward to use if you couldn't put it down, and he responded that you could put it down if you emptied it. That was good enough reason to become fast friends fast.

I asked why he wanted one, other than to have an excuse
for drinking games, and he said he was involved in the Whithorn Dig in nearby Wigtownshire, and that they were coming up with glass fragments, possibly from cone beakers. It would be nice to have a replica for the museum.

I said I didn't make replicas, and he said it didn't have to be anything like exact. I said leave it to me and I'll have a play with it later and let him know.

Time passed.

Peter Hill, for that was (and is) his name, telephoned me several times over a couple of months and each time I said leave it to me and

I'd have a play with it later and let him know.

Time passed.

Then Peter appeared again in person, and
I said I was just going to do it this afternoon.
He said "Good," and sat down.
I made several attempts at the shape
with several decorative effects,
and he pronounced himself delighted.

I said "They're nothing like replicas."
To this day there is a cone in the museum labeled
'a replica made by a local craftsman'.
So it goes, but I was interested in mastering the shape.

I played with it for several days.

I had been making pointy-bottomed shapes for some time, but in a generalised 'amphora/vase/bottle' form.
At first, I had given them narrow flat bottoms, but it was a compromise, and they were inherently unstable.

I had found some abandonded copper electricity cable
(was tripped up by it in the woods while hunting mushrooms),
It was resurrected from the
"that'll come in useful sometime" heap
and I had welded it into little tripods for a new
series of totally round or pointy-bottomed vessels.

The first exhibition of these had been very successful, and it seemed a perfect way to handle the new shape, so I made a dozen or so cones and began to exhibit them on stands.

People asked what they were, and I related the tale so far. They said 'very nice', and didn't buy many.

The Whithorn Dig shop bought a few, but Peter refused to allow stands. He said it was all about not putting your drink down...

I demonstrated at the dig a couple of times and he bought quite a few. He seemed to be trying to corner the market, but some of the other diggers got some as well.

At an exhibition in Edinburgh, a Bavarian lady asked me if I had one which could be hung on the wall.
I fiddled the wire tripod a bit and she said,
"That's perfect. I'll have it. How much?"

I said "It's free, and thank you, because I think I've just found the candle lamp I need for my VW bus."

I was sick of the electric light, so immediately I was home
I filled a cone with beeswax and a wick and lit it.
It made the most atrocious candle I've ever seen!
I still have it and it's awful.

But I still had the vision of a light for the VW, so I searched out some lamp oil, and set about solving the problem of
how to get a wick in the middle of an open conical vessel.

I remembered from National Geographic
(my prime source of 'visual research' since toilet training)
that Eskimos sometimes float a porous bit of bone as a wick in whale oil lamps.

I made a little boat, which sank immediately;
I made another which took a little longer to sink,
another which capsized pretty easily, and eventually
the prototype of the present burners.

But the real surprise
happened when I lit the first one in the dark workshop!
The whole shape lit up like a magic wand! It took me totally by surprise!

Here was this lovely flame floating in clear lamp oil
in a vessel coloured with colloidal silver chloride
(for a long time my basic ground colour),
and the whole thing was glowing!

Not long afterwards I was visited by a lovely lady
named Loretta, and I showed her this marvellous device.

The way it lit up her face in the dark
made me run for a camera.

Since then, I reckon we have sold thousands of conelamps,
and all as a result of a string of accidental events.
That's what I call Sunday Driving!

To this day, making the burners is some of the most demanding work I have to do. For every lovely, flowing conelamp I make, I also have to make a burner with hermetically sealed flotation which will stand up to use
(We guarantee it!)

That's the dues I have to pay.

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