A really fun part of my job is the first contact I get with a new client and they say "We're thinking of something, but we don't know what. Is that possible?" and then from there, based on their budget, the use and how wild they want to be, I get to design and create a piece of artwork that is new and truly unique.
A little bit ago, a company contacted me and wanted an award that would reflect their work in the aerospace industry. They really liked the "Earth from Space" type of awards I have created before, so we went from there and I designed this piece:
Usually I design a piece without knowing for sure how to make it or if it will actually work. Then go about the process of figuring out how to make what I've seen in my head. Of course, I keep physics in mind and know basically what is and isn't possible, so don't design floating, rotating heads or anything (although that would be fun...).
With this piece, the Earth section, I've made before for a different award, so I knew how to create that part, but the pillar it sits on was a bit of a challenge. I finally decided that the best way was to use a drop mold with a triple thickness plate. Theoretically, this would drop down the appropriate amount, and be thick enough to strongly hold up the Earth section. The Earth is a 6 inch plate, 4 layers thick and then molded into the chord section, so it is pretty heavy. They wanted the entire piece to be about 8 inches tall, so I set out to make the base.
The rough part was to get the piece to drop the appropriate amount, and be able to reproduce it nearly exactly for the second award they'd ordered. I ended up with a number of samples that went in the heat too long, so they puddled at the bottom instead of making a smooth dome. Or, they went in the heat too short of a time and didn't get enough of a pillar on them to reach the 8 inch height requirement. Putting a short one back in to heat it up a bit more doesn't work well, as the glass is then uneven, so doesn't stretch uniformly. And there is no way to shorten one that is too long.
After a number of trials, I finally got one that was Just Right! Then I set out to make the second one. It took a few tries, but finally a second one came out very similar. It was about a half inch shorter, but that's ok.
Initially, the company engraving was to be on the extended part of the pillar. After working with the samples, I was concerned because that is the thinnest part of the whole piece. To engrave into that just seemed to be asking for trouble, so I made the decision to put the engraving on the base instead. I think it looks fantastic! Here's the final result:
I shipped the two awards to their new home in Houston. I'm proud of them. I hope they're loved.