Emerging by Ella and Michèle - Lost wax model taken from
Michèle's mould and kiln formed by Ella in glass - Ceramic base - 30cm tall

 

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…
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