These are the original origami models, made in paper. Although quite a thin material, their structure means they are quite strong. These models were based on the cut glass patterns found under the foot of crystal glasses (and so often unnoticed).
The dark turquoise circular pieces are rubber moulds. They were made by heating and melting the rubber, then pouring it over the varnished origami models. The thin white wall around each mould is the 'cottling' wall set up around the origami, to stop the rubber pouring away. When the rubber has cooled and set, the original model can be removed.
These blue and yellow pieces are all made with wax. The molten wax was poured into the rubber moulds and allowed to cool and set. As rubber is flexible, it is usually fairly easy to remove the wax model from the mould - which can then be used to make another wax.
Here you can see the off-white investment moulds - these are made from a strengthened form of plaster, poured over the wax models. Once the investment is set, the wax models are melted out of the moulds, using steam. The wax is lost - hence 'lost wax' casting.
This picture shows the investment moulds ready to fire in the kiln. They have been stacked with chunks of lead crystal glass. When the kiln reaches high temperatures (around 800˚C), the glass will melt and fill the details in each mould.
Here you can see how the glass has melted and filled the moulds during the firing. The moulds now need to be carefully broken away, to free the glass - so they cannot be reused. The glass will need to be cleaned and 'cold worked' (sanded and polished) to remove all traces of the investment.
And finally, the cast glass pieces, released from their moulds, cleaned and finished.
A cutting from the Express & Star newspaper, which shows the final scale and shape of Shift Work, displayed at Plowden & Thompson glassworks.
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Traditionally, casting glass in a kiln can be broken down into five main stages of work:
Unusually, Shift Work uses elements from all stages of the casting process to create the final piece. What goes unnoticed, is that it is not just the final cast glass which is beautiful: each stage of the process produces objects which are fascinating and beautiful in their own right. Sadly they are very often they are sacrificed in completing the next stage.
For Shift Work, they were remade so the public could see both the process of casting - and the beauty that is usually lost along the way.