I was recently commissioned by the legendary French glass makers, Lalique, to design and sculpt an enormous (in relative terms) crystal angel, an allegory of Music, for Elton John. The piece, know as Cire Perdue (after the lost wax process Lalique used to cast the piece), is a single, unique artwork that will be auctioned off in Los Angeles in February, with all proceeds going to the Elton John Aids Foundation. After a long design process and an even longer time in production, the piece is finally finished and was shown for the first time at Elton’s Windsor estate, to an effusive reaction:
“I don’t think that I have ever seen a more beautiful piece of glass than the big Angel. It is breathtaking!
Elton signing the big Angel
Designing a sculpture for casting in crystal is challenging because there are many considerations the medium demands: the transparency of the material, the minimum thickness of features for flow of the molten crystal through the mold, reducing edge angles to keep cooling points from fracturing, etc. There is a good reason that crystal pieces of this size are rarely seen – they take incredible craftsmanship and patience to design, cast and finish. The artisans at Lalique are certainly the contemporary masters of this craft having refined their lost wax process over the last century.
Before working on this piece, I didn’t really appreciate glass as a medium for sculpture, but after touring the the Lalique factory and museum I slowly started to change my mind. I saw some amazing pieces of art and design, both by René Lalique, the art nouveau founder, and subsequent designers. I began to appreciate the aesthetic glass can have as well as the enormous craft involved in producing these pieces. It is a challenging material to design for, but properly handled, it can produce stunning results.
Elton with the towering angel and the rest of his “Music is Love” collection
more: Elton John talking about his Music is Love collection, and the big Angel.