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Current Work - Ears

  silicone ear This project started out with me toying with the idea of making a hollow in the shape of an ear in cast glass, a "core cast" as it's known in glass-making circles.

Part of the motivation was that ears are an interesting shape and symbolize one of our key senses - hearing.

Part of it was that I wanted to express the problems faced by people with hearing disabilities (such as my wife).  They often can't follow conversations in noisy backgrounds and are laughed at for misunderstanding what's been said. This can result in them avoiding such situations and feeling socially isolated. 
I decided against making a mould of someone's ears myself - I didn't want to risk anything getting deep inside a living ear - and then I found these ones, made in China and used for training acupuncture practitioners.

I took a gamble that the material was silicone and bought a pair on eBay for 7.22.
 ear in mould for wax
 I started out just making a little mould for wax, to see whether the material could withstand heat and whether it was sufficiently elastic.

It was!
  Ear defenders in bits
 The next step was to spend a day with Amy Whittingham, who works part time as a technician at Plymouth College of Art, has a workshop in Flameworks, and is a real whizz with mould-making for cast glass.

I hadn't gone further than thinking of an ear as a hollow in a slab of glass, the glass blocking the sound.  But Amy suggested some "out of the box" alternatives, one of them being turning the ear pieces of an ear defender into cast glass with the hollow ear inside them.

I loved the idea - it made the blocking of sound much more explicit.  We found some old ear defenders (pictured)  and charged ahead.

 Mouds for Gelflex
 The first step was to make Gelflex moulds of the two earpieces. 
  Wax in Gelflex moulds The next step was to place the ears under the Gelflex moulds, seal everything with clay and pour in molten wax.
  First waxes of ear defenders
 The result is on the right; the ear needed to be a bit further out.  With my second attempt, in the middle, I overdid it a little in the other direction.  More versions to come!

 Mould for Crystalcast
 I also went ahead with a test piece for a hollow ear in a slab of glass.  This is the mould ready for Crystalcast plaster.

I have some other ideas- watch this space!
  ear in glass slab
 Now out of the kiln

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