Portland Engraver

Dimensions96 cm x 64 cm x 25 cm
Materials Pâte de verre, bronze, and wood
Collection Mike and Aurielle Wilderman, Tenafly, NJ

This commission for a collector of cameo glass was based on one of the most famous and sophisticated examples of this type of hand engraved glass. The Portland vase was created in Rome in the first century. The technique was to blow a glass vase with a first gather of blue glass and a second gather of compatible white glass. After the glass is annealed the engraver works on the white layer with copper tools carving the figures and then exposing the dark layer for the background.

I made this piece by doing the figures in clay then making rubber molds pouring wax into the very fine molds and then attaching and connecting the many small waxes to a previously made wax vase form thus creating the frieze relief.I then made a refractory mold and removed the wax with an autoclave. The next step was to fill the mold with frit in all the details much like classic pate-de-verre and that was backed by heavier glass and then heated to temperature and annealed.