The Witch is Free

Sweeping Changes Series
Glass, Acrylic

The Witch is Free, the glass broom, was the culmination of many trials, many failures and restarts, to make a broom from Glass.  Rae loved the Glass studio, and was particularly drawn to sandcasting and slumping.  She wanted to make a glass broom, and tried many times unsuccessfully to do one in a sand mold.  She learned a lot about the technique in the process, and did make some other glass pieces in the mold, but what she tried to do for a broom just never worked out.  The process she was trying involved taking wet olivine sand and 2 boxes.  sand was put in one box, a cut off broom was pushed down most of the way into the sand, more sand and the other box placed over that, with waxed paper along the seam so that after tamping down the sand, the two boxes should have been able to separate, so the broom could be removed, leaving the sand forming a negative impression of the broom, and a hole to pour the molten class through.

Every attempt ended up with the sand collapsing, refusing to hold its form, possibly because of the size of the broom, or the fact that the individual broom straws would mingle with the sand, pulling it apart as the mold opened.  In any case, she gave up that attempt.

While in class, she learned of the “Witches Ball”  often found in glass factories, and also sometimes in breweries and other places.  The idea was that witches sometimes spoiled the work in the annealing kiln or vats, and that the shiny glass globe would capture her interest.  In the version Rae found the Witches Ball had a hole in the bottom that the witch’s spirit would fly into, and not be able to find its way back out of.

So the only time Rae actually did work with molten glass was to make the top of the broom you see here, tantalizingly shaped so that no witch could resist it.  Attached to a 1 1/4″ thick stem of class for the handle, all that remained was to attach the skirt.

The skirt, since it could not be a cast of a real broom, posed some problems.  She tried taking glass rods and heating and drawing them out.  Too tedious, and too regular.

Steve Feran demonstrated how to create glass tubes and rods, by grabbing the end of a ball of glass fresh out of the oven, and running out the door with it, getting as far as possible before the glass cooled, and began to break into sections.

For the Sweeping Changes show, Rae did a combination.  She had some irregular glass rods made in this way, some glass tubes and pipettes from a lab supply house.  She heated the ends and made them curl at the top, and curve like broomstraw would.  Held piece by piece in place with a dab of silicone caulk, and clear nylon cord wrapped around the bundle.  The whole thing was beautiful, and fragile.  Many rods broke in transport, and the whole skirt was eventually replaced with acrylic rods, which still sparkle, but do not shatter and cut.

The piece is now in the collection of Casey Heinzel.

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