Luke Jerram Day 9

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With my car in the garage, we arranged for Sam (our teaching assistant at the Hub) to meet Helga, and I at Mike’s studio in Yate to collect a second slumping of Luke’s ‘sleeping figure’ from Mike’s kiln. The week before, Helga and I had gone out to Yate to set up the second firing with Mike, this time with a thicker gauge of 6mm glass. We were expecting a more stable result, but inevitably a heavier object to lift. For this firing we had decided on a cooler temperature with a slightly longer soak, and we were 100% certain the plaster body mould would not be coming out in one piece!

On this sunny, alternating with pouring down with rain day, we were anxious about the weight of this new piece and thought four weight-lifters would be better than three! This is not an object that will fit in the back of many cars. Sam had borrowed his Dad’s Renault van. Weirdly, Renaults seem the perfect size for carrying bodies around! This time, not only did we have to remove the glass figure (which we expected to be the last cast), we also had to remove the mould and the four boxes of bricks we had been using to raise the height of the kiln.

Arriving at the studio, we wound up the lid with less nerves this time, but because two variables (sheet thickness and temperature) had been altered, we were nonetheless unsure of what we would discover ..and up it came …to reveal the best one yet! The heavier glass had indeed fallen to make a more substantial edge, not paper thin as before, and the whole thing looked and felt stronger, as we had hoped. It was not as heavy or unmanageable as we had expected, and we found and lifted it from the edges securely straight away, but we really did need more than two people on the job.

We took it straight out to the van, the figure sliding safely onto its awaiting sponge foam bed, then called Luke to discuss the next step; “this is the last chance” …”is it going to be the last one?” Had we a larger budget, we would have loved to continue with just one more firing, one more to get it just right. This is a common dilemma faced by makers; budget and time often taking the parental controls from the drive for perfection. It was agreed this would be the last one and we reluctantly began to dispose of James Devereux’s plaster body into rubble sacks.

Now at the end of the residency, we pulled the final curtain on the sleeping figure, and began to remove the shell of plaster (chicken wire still bravely holding it together, but mould mix beginning to crumble) into rubble sacks and the bricks into boxes. We left Mike’s studio for the last time …on this project anyway.

Back to the hub: this time it was Sam’s turn to feel every pot hole and notice every little bump on the road. The sleeping figure was finally put to rest in the big barn adjacent to our studio. We were hiring this space for the duration of Luke’s residency, and were begging our landlord at the farm to find more space for storage long term. A note to those who are thinking of moving into large scale sculptures: have a very large storage space available!

KT Yun

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