“How can anybody even think of trying to sell a professional on something like that?” It was impossible to tell what was going on behind the hot shop master’s face when Sarpaneva shared his ideas with him. “What if we poured the glass into the mould from up high? Would it carry air in with it? Would bubbles or stripes form – or both? We wouldn’t need any soda. What do you say, Reka?” The hot shop master listened quietly, without comment.

“I thought about Timo’s idea. I had a little mould like that in the glassworks – just a cylinder. I dribbled a ribbon of semi-molten glass into it and it did exactly what Timo said it would.” Hot shop master Reino Löflund recalled the event from decades ago: “We had such a strong mutual trust that he never had any reservations about proposing even the craziest ideas. What if I went off and told someone else ‘Now look what he’s come up with’? But there was always something in his ideas that was worth trying – and it often worked! After all, he had learned a lot about glassmaking from us – his ideas really weren’t that crazy.”

The Arkipelago collection was on exhibit for the first time at the Nordic Cultural Centre on Suomenlinna in 1979. The exhibition was almost ready, with just a few finishing touches needed. The guests of honour were expected to arrive right at the moment the large, two-tiered glass table in the main hall crashed to the floor. There were kilograms of smashed exhibition pieces and razor-sharp shards of glass all over the floor. After a few moments of shocked silence, the people on hand swept into action. Few have ever seen such a swift clean up. Exhibition tables that were already set up were taken apart and then reassembled. Sarpaneva showed the impromptu clean-up crew where to put the new tables. When the President of Finland, Urho Kekkonen arrived, everything looked like it should.