Inside the Looking Glass

Watching Marlene at work in her studio is a glimpse into some heavenly inferno.

Anyone viewing this “dance of heat and light”, as Marlene likes to call it, gets the definite impression that they are witnessing a very complex and dangerous process. While at the same time, with her well drilled crew, the viewer sees past this and becomes mesmerized by the fine-tuned performance. Each partner knows exactly what to do and when, where communication exists without words, and where the result reflects the energy of its creation.

The First Step:

Although many people are aware of the heat and danger involved with casting glass in its molten state at 2000 degrees, most people are not aware of just how much work goes into each mold prior to casting. On a typical day in the studio, Marlene will put about 6-7 hours into the mold work before the climactic moment of pouring the glass.

First, Marlene starts with a concept that she typically sketches out. Once she has solidified her design concept, this concept is carved into a hard foam form. This foam carving is then pressed into a special mixture of moist sand and clay and carefully removed leaving behind a detailed memory of the foam shape in the sand.

Marlene uses a vacuum with a very narrow tip on the end to perfect the mold, making sure no unwanted sand is in the mold.
The sand is blackened with acetylene smoke so that the hot glass does not stick to it.
In this next step, Marlene’s vision begins to come more to life as she sifts a thin layer of powdered glass carefully and exactly onto the blackened surface.
100% recycled glass, first arriving in a variety of shapes and sizes, now appears more like liquid gold in its molten state, some 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, where it is poured into the mold.
Once in the mold, hot torches are used on the exposed surface of the glass to prevent it cooling too quickly.
When the glass reaches about 900 degrees, the sand is cut away. The glass is then very carefully hand-carried to a special oven where it is slowly brought to room temperature over about a hundred hours, roughly a week’s time
The overall impression is that this is a complex and dangerous process. But with a well drilled crew, this process becomes a dance with each partner knowing exactly what to do and when, where communication exists between the crew without words, and where the result reflects the energy of its creation. The dialogue between glass and solid metal, between spectacular and serene result, make Marlene Rose’s works eloquent, elegant, vivacious and above all, truly timeless.
Marlene’s team has been working together for close to 15 years. While the work is hard, dangerous and dirty, they clearly also have a lot of fun!!