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Friday, August 21, 2009

What am I Creating for My Grant Project?

I will be creating a series of large 3-D cast recycled glass dragonflies (and a few smaller ones) with a few surprise features that will be installed in an Arlington county area park next spring. As it now stands, it is likely to be Barcroft Park which is my favorite park. All the sculptural pieces of the public installation will work together to create a positive message not only about the uses of recycled glass but also about the theme of "destination." These dragonflies will have a shared "surprise" destination that will also signify goal setting, activities, busyness and persistence. Dragonflies also have a positive symbolism in several cultures relating to harmony, good luck, prosperity, hope and joy.

I am using plate, window or bottle glass for each of the dragonflies and will be adding special frits or enamels to bring additional colors and dimension to each cast piece. I have been working on a 16-17 inch test size for the large dragonfly and it looks about half of them will weigh over 10 lbs and require over 2 and 1/2 days of kiln firing, annealing and controlled cooling.

Process-wise, I first make a 3-D model of the dragonfly in clay and then build a dam (using clay or other materials) around it and pour a plaster and silica mix on top of it. After this plaster/silica mix sets, I carefully dig out the clay which can be reused. After cleaning the mold, I then have a final mold to place the broken glass pieces into for firing. After cooling, the mold is broken away from the cast dragonfly. Additional coldworking with sanders, dremel bits, etc. is done to further clean and refine the glass casting. So, it is important to note that each dragonfly is cast in a one time use original mold and the mold is not reused since it must be broken to remove the cast dragonfly. The molds are about 20 inches across and weigh over 35 lbs.

The photos below demonstrate this process.

Clay model of dragonfly

Plaster/silica mix poured on top of the clay mold

The mold has set and is flipped over to show the clay dragonfly

After the clay is removed, glass is placed into the mold.

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