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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Pollyanna Moment

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas MAY. 31, 2021

What mysterious being has arrived at my door? Many things went into the story of how this mysterious being arrived at my door.

This house was built about thirty years ago and for some unknown reason the builder decided to leave one small area of wall as exposed brick. All of the other walls were plastered or maybe concreted would be more accurate as our first discovery was that it was nigh on impossible to get a picture hook in anywhere.

Eventually we used a heavy duty drill to get through the concrete coating and the incredibly hard bricks. At least it means it isn't going to blow down anytime soon.

We had a door installed last year, that had a small window at the top, and in that diamond shaped hole was what is termed a bullseye piece of glass, or Crown Glass.

The angle of the house in the landscape means that, just like Stonehenge, the rays of the sun only enter certain parts at certain times of year and at the moment the Earth we stand on is in a position relative to the sun that enables light to come through the bullseye. This was the first time I had witnessed this rare scientific event of my un-plastered hallway. An ethereal profile of someone at the window.

This is the full picture below. I had quite a shock when I spotted it, as it was quite dramatic.

In 1665, Isaac Newton was a young scientist studying at Cambridge University in England. He was very interested in learning all about light and colours. One bright sunny day, Newton darkened his room and made a hole in his window shutter, allowing just one beam of sunlight to enter the room. He then took a glass prism and placed it in the sunbeam. The result was a spectacular multi-coloured band of light just like a rainbow. The multi-coloured band of light is called a colour spectrum.

Newton believed that all the colours he saw were in the sunlight shining into his room. He thought he then should be able to combine the colours of the spectrum and make the light white again. To test this, he placed another prism upside-down in front of the first prism. He was right. The band of colours combined again into white sunlight. Newton was the first to prove that white light is made up of all the colours that we can see.

The light waves are refracted as they enter and leave the prism. The shorter the wavelength of the light, the more it is refracted. As a result, red light is refracted the least and violet light is refracted the most - causing the coloured light to spread out to form a spectrum.

This window is an interpretation or a facsimile of traditional Crown Glass.

Facsimile- Late 16th century (originally as fac simile, denoting the making of an exact copy, especially of writing): modern Latin, from Latin fac! (imperative of facere ‘make’) and simile (neuter of similis ‘like’).

Facsimile is pronounced with a hard C. And simile is pronounced similly not how you would expect. So the ile is pronounced as in s-illy not as in st-yle. That's English for you, or in this case Latin. For every rule of pronunciation there is a word that breaks the rule, sorry about that. If you are two years old though you soon pick it up naturally. This resulted in the word Fax, for a copy document, sent using traditional phone networks.

Crown glass was an early type of window glass. In this process, glass was blown into a "crown" or hollow globe. This was then transferred from the blowpipe to a punty and then flattened by reheating and spinning out the bowl-shaped piece of glass (bullion) into a flat disk by centrifugal force, up to 5 or 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 metres) in diameter. The glass was then cut to the size required.

The thinnest glass was in a band at the edge of the disk, with the glass becoming thicker and more opaque toward the centre. Known as a bullseye, the thicker centre area around the pontil mark was used for less expensive windows. In order to fill large window spaces with the best glass, many small diamond shapes would be cut from the edge of the disk and these would be mounted in a lead lattice work and fitted into the window frame.

So what we know as bullseye glass was actually a cheap by-product or waste from the process of making the glass everyone really wanted, which was glass you could see through. You may have noticed that on the bottom of a traditionally made wine glass you have a similar looking effect, also called the pontil, and the result of the same process.

When I enlarged my window photo the small circle in the centre revealed a whole vision of what is outside my door in miniature and upside down. That house on the left was the house I lived in twenty one years ago.

Pollyanna - "Why, Mr. Pendleton, it's a baby rainbow--a real rainbow come in to pay you a visit!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands together softly. "Oh--oh--oh, how pretty it is! But how did it get in?" she cried.

The man laughed a little grimly: John Pendleton was particularly out of sorts with the world this morning.

"Well, I suppose it 'got in' through the bevelled edge of that glass thermometer in the window," he said wearily. "The sun shouldn't strike it at all but it does in the morning."

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