FROM TRENCHES TO MOUNTAINS
“The deepest sea is 10,971 metres. The highest mountain is 8,848 metres. We are in between.” Michele De Lucchi
The Mariana Trench is the deepest oceanic depression known to mankind, it forms a slight arc 2.500 kilometers long and extends itself deep underwater for about 11.000 meters. Even if we still don’t really know what kind of flora and fauna inhabit it, we know that deep down live bizarre animals, fish, jellyfish, shrimp, worms and bacteria that can withstand the incredible pressure of the immense mass of water. On the other side, Mount Everest is the highest peak of the Earth, reaching 8.848 meters of altitude. It’s made out of three faces and three ridges and it rises towards the sky in the form of a pyramid. Covered in ice and hit by snowstorms, it’s one of the most inhospitable places on our planet. So distant yet so close, the Mariana Trench and Mount Everest, are two of the least explored places on Earth, and in order to fully understand ourselves and the world we live in, we must first dig deep and climb high towards the most hidden and unknown spaces.
The Glacier lamps and Marianne vases, inspired by these mysterious places, were respectively born in April 2013 and 2014, both as products for the collection of Produzione PRIVATA, and as unique pieces of different shapes and sizes. They come in transparent and glazed white blown glass, and have a beautiful story that comes from their mold. In fact it is not a typical mold, but a mold in steel plates, inside which the glass is blown. Each plate can be positioned in countless ways, generating endless lamps and vases. Depending on the pressure of the air, each piece is different from the other, because each breath is different and pushes the glass in different ways between the plates. The shape of this new element is not trapped in any way, but it evolves thanks to the freedom the glass has of expanding, simply pushed by the blow of the artisan.
Despite the innovative mold, the process of production, as in every other object by Produzione PRIVATA, follows artisanal methods. Only this way, man can directly and closely work with the material and through continuous experimentation, give life to unique objects, which exhibit within their own shapes those real variations that a machine cannot transmit.
Everything starts from the mold, in this case a metal mold, quite different from the classical wooden one. This mold can be easily dismantled and reassembled in countless ways.
From simple sand to precious glass. The melted material is heating up in the high temperature oven, it’s almost ready to be finally transformed into lamps and vases.
The mold is placed in a space under the floor level and is prepared to receive the molten glass.
Its plates are heated with a blowtorch and brought to a high temperature in order to avoid any possible reaction with the molten glass. The temperature difference between the two materials can, in fact, cause the glass to stick to the metal and other types of deformation.
The glassworker collects the correct amount of molten glass around a steel tube, and with a metal container, a wooden paddle and with continuous rotations he begins to shape the hot mass. This is an extremely delicate phase, the glassworker must constantly fight against the force of gravity to prevent any fall of material. From shapeless mass, the molten glass begins to stretch and take on the right size to be inserted into the mold.
The glass mass, now properly shaped, is inserted into the mold and once it reaches the bottom, the blowing process starts. During this process, the skill and sensitivity of the glassworker can really be appreciated, with his breath, more or less strong, he will mark forever the surface of the vase. Contrary to the wooden molds, in which it’s the internal void that shapes the object, in this case, it’s the mass of the metal plates that acts as a physical limit to the free expansion of the glass.
After the blowing process, the vase is removed from the mold and cooled down with a series of rotations. With a wooden paddle the base of the vase is flattened until it becomes regular and smooth. Teamwork and coordination are key elements for the creation of glass. Each worker has clear tasks that he must perform in complete harmony with the other members of the group.
A strip of molten glass is poured along the edge of the vase in order to protect it from any cracks and to facilitate the final cut that must be done after the cooling. Preceding its removal, the attachment to the blowpipe is weakened with a metal point.
The blowpipe is removed and the vase is placed in a vertical position, finally it's inserted in a high temperature oven to undergo the last tempering process that will make it more robust and resistant.
The beauty of these vases and these lamps can be appreciated especially knowing the process, complex and delicate at the same time, that simply though the natural forces of fire and air creates its particular forms. Just as the forces of the Earth generated those places, still so mysterious and unexplored, as the Mariana Trench and Mount Everest.
Project: Michele De Lucchi
Design: Michele De Lucchi
Text: Michele De Lucchi, Oliver Carmi
Photos: Michele De Lucchi, Mercedes Jaén Ruiz
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