This sculpture will have various colors within it. It will have transparent and opaques. In order to get the colors that I want I have to do many tests. I mix a base batch of chemicals first. Then I figure out recipes for the colors that I want to create. I have to figure out crucibles that will withstand the glass melting temperatures. These range from 2100-2400 degrees F. I devised a system for filling the pots and melting the color, pouring the molten color out and creating a billet or ingot of glass. This requires resources, patience, research, a lot of head scratching, rental time and assistance. The colors I am shooting for are 2-3 opal and transparent browns, black, transparent pale yellow, transparent grey (tools), red/orange (glass bubble), clear (bench and rails).
Reference images and life casting photos of the Gaffer, her pose and how her hands interact with the tools
In the process of patching the arms on the model in this dynamic pose of a female Gaffer working at the bench. The weight of the piece is focused between her tail bone and sternum. A lot of twisting, turning, pasting, cutting off and re-pasting of the wax is necessary to achieve something that looks in motion and believable. After the pose is stable and looks like it fits the rest of the dialogue that is happening in the piece, I work on bracing and rounding out the shape of the muscles and skin. Then, once everything starts to look natural I can start to detail the areas that need it.
Glassblowers use specific tools to manipulate the glass at the work bench. Two of those tools are the Tweezers and the Jacks. They are very delicate, handmade steel tools. In order to duplicate these in wax, I beefed them up on the interior with clay and then made a silicone mold of them. I had to do this several times before I was able to pull a wax that I liked. When I was able to get a likable wax, I then had to sculpt it down and fit it to her hand. Casting it in glass will be a whole other chapter.
Dean Allison is a studio artist working with portrait sculpture and the figure with glass. His studio is in Pittsburgh PA. Dean is working on a commissioned sculpture for our new space in the Newark Arts Common. Follow Dean as he works to create this new significant work of art.