Emerging - told by Michèle Findlay
Ella and I have always had
a good relationship; even the traumatic teens came and went without
a hitch; then she was off to university and in that time grew
up into a person was not sure I knew anymore. I had to get to
know the new person she now was and a new kind of relationship
emerged from working together on the project which resulted in
this piece. We had developed, over the years, an appreciation
for each other's vision which made it possible to work together
to achieve our goal.
Ella's special friend was getting
married and she wanted to create a piece that reflected the contrast
and togetherness of a man and woman joining to forge a future
for themselves. We decided to create a pair of figures whose
materials symbolised the masculine and feminine attributes of
the couple, so I would make the male figures from ceramic and
Ella would make a female glass figure.
The process of lost wax casting
is not complicated but involves a series of different processes.
You start with a clay model from which I cast a two piece plaster
mould. This is then used to cast a number of wax figures; we
decided to make three as there are many pitfalls in this process.
After the figures had been tidied up another one piece plaster
mould was cast and the wax was steamed out of them leaving a
hollow shape. The moulds were dried over a number of days and
then placed in a kiln, a reservoir holding enough glass pieces
to fill the hollow shape was placed above the moulds and the
kiln door was shut. It was then switched on and heated to about
900 degrees centigrade and allowed to stay at that temperature
for about 24 hours to allow the glass to melt and fill the moulds.
The kiln was then allowed to cool slowly so as to prevent the
glass from shattering. When the waiting was over we opened the
kiln door with trepidation and excitement.
What we found was typical of
this process, we had one very good figure which was earmarked
for the present, one good figure which had bubbled inside and
which we gave to the very helpful technician who had supervised
the firing and one figure whose reservoir of glass had broken
and which had not had its full measure of glass. It was a little
shorter than the rest. We could have looked at it as a piece
which had broken or not come up to expectation but we both decided
that it look as though it still had some growing to do, in a
way it was symbolic of the three weeks we had spent planning
and preparing and of a new relationship emerging from the experience.
I made a ceramic stand for
it and later we sold it and shared the proceeds. This was a great
learning experience for me. I had only limited experience of
working with glass and my daughter taught me and demonstrated
the wide variety of skills needed to carry out this kind of work,
from mould making, to calculating the volume of glass, to handling
kilns and grinding equipment. And out of it we got what we had
started out to create but lots more too