This post was written in response to Charlie Mills’ Carrot Ranch Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt
March 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include slag in a story. Slag is a glass-like by-product of smelting or refining ore. Slag is also used in making glass or can result from melting glass. It can be industrious or artistic. Go where the prompt leads. All writers are welcome!
I’m afraid it’s a dark flash this week. Hidden rooms in attics where troublesome wives were imprisoned were not infrequent in Victorian England.
I’ll tell you all about the fascinating world of Victorian amber slag lamps after my 99-word flash.
Victorian King Midas
Their skeletal remains were found in the hidden attic room of their Victorian home. She was wearing glass slag amber earrings, necklace, and an evening gown with amber slag gems sewn on.
A note on the bed-side-table, held in place by a priceless Victorian amber slag glass lamp, read:
My husband fancied he was like King Midas and everything he touched turned to gold and became his property, like me. I thought his blood might be amber, but it was bright crimson.
He would have been pleased it was his favourite slag amber lamp which had cracked his skull.
Well, in this case the wife didn’t escape, but she was able to give her husband a taste of his own medicine!
I didn’t know anything about slag, but I looked it up on Saint Google, and found out it was also commonly known as Malachite glass, which is pressed glass with coloured streaks to create a marble effect.
The production of slag glass originated in late-19th-century England, where glass manufacturers are thought to have added slag from iron-smelting works to molten glass to create a range of effects—from tortoiseshell to marbling. Among other uses, slag glass was a popular material for lampshades and other household ornaments.
Slag glass was made by British companies such as Sowerby, Davidson and Greener during the Victorian era, around the 1880’s/90’s. Sowerby marketed their slag glass under the name ‘Malachite’, and this name was used for all the colours they produced. The most common colour for slag glass was purple, but it was also made in blue, turquoise, green, and brown glass. Modern slag glass is still being made today in USA, and comes in a variety of colours.
Examples of Victorian slag glass
Since the process of making slag glass was shrouded in a certain amount of mystery, stories sprang up to try and account for the process behind the effects. For example, it was a rumoured that Sowerby’s Gold Nugget, which was an amber colour, was ‘invented’ by John George Sowerby, the artistic son of the company’s founder, by tossing gold sovereigns into batches of amber glass to create this dramatic hue. Mr. Sowerby was an artist who left the day to day running of his business to a trusted administrator.
Such a man, might have been a greedy and materialistic miser. He might have thought he was King Midas, making his slag products into gold by adding the gold coins to the mixture. He might have filled his house with amber slag ornaments, such as lamps, candlesticks and vases etc. And he might have covered his wife in amber slag and locked her in his attic, so no-one else could see his golden lover.
Although, who knows, that might never have happened.
Here are some more pictures of slag lamps on Pinterest.
I’d like to thank Charli for this weeks’ prompt, which has (indirectly) introduced me to the fascinating Sowerby family of entrepreneurs, artists, writers, painters, and naturalists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Who knows if another Victorian novel may come of this…
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