Artist Marlene Rose in her Florida studio –  Art Direction: Jennifer Anderson – Clothes & Styling: Gioffre  - Make-up & Hair: Christine Wheaton

Marlene Rose is a well known artist dealing in innovative methods to make stunning glass sculptures. I had the unique opportunity to shoot a photo story in her Florida studio – I hope to communicate some of the intricate processes involved in making these beautiful sculptures. The image above is a promo shot of Marlene that I shot as part of a collaboration with Jennifer Anderson, who art directed it. More shots from that shoot will be published in due course.

The story starts below:

The first step involves contouring a special mixture of sand and clay (kept at exactly the right moisture). This is done with precision tools to achieve the shape that Marlene has envisioned.

The detailing is so exact and the sand so pliable, any loose sand is vacuumed out of the mold. The sand is part of the secret of Marlene’s success. It has to be the exact consistency required to be malleable yet firm.

Details are set into the sand/clay mixture, ready for the glass to be poured.

The sand is then ‘baked’ into place with a blowtorch, ready for the heavy glass to be poured without changing the shape of the mold.

 

Depending on Marlene’s artistic vision, a colouring powder is added. These are applied with exacting precision to give the final piece a precise hue.

 

The colorized mold is a beautiful preview of what the final piece will look like.

 

The furnace brings the glass up to a temperature exceeding 2000 Fahrenheit, at which the glass is liquid and can be poured.

 

Liquid glass is poured into the prepared mold. This is a delicate process. It has to be timed just right to make sure the glass hardens in a consistent fashion. It has to be poured fast enough so it doesn’t cool, at which point it can no longer be worked with.

 

Once the mold is full, the glass has cooled down enough that it has to be cut with scissors, it won’t just drip clean like water.

 

Immediately after the glass poured, it is temperature controlled with a blow-torch.

 

It’s surface cannot be allowed to cool to fast. The sand has an insulating effect, therefore bringing a faster release of temperature at the surface. Failure to control this temperature release can result in the glass shattering during the controlled cooling process.

 

To handle the piece of glass, the handler must himself ensure an even temperature. His gloves are heated up to minimize the risk of cracking the glass.

 

The piece is then carefully removed from its bed of sand fired in a kiln until it’s fully ready to be mounted as a sculpture. By the time this occurs, the piece will have cooled down to 900 Fahrenheit.

 

After a week of cooling slowly to room temperature in the kiln, the finished piece emerges. It will be cleaned, polished, mounted and photographed before becoming part of the amazing collection of works that is Marlene Rose Glass.