It all started out innocently enough; we were trying to figure out a way to modify the Self Portrait Paperweight project for the Hawthorne ELP Artist Residency. Originally I had planned to have the kids make a clay positive face, then pour a plaster/silica mix mold for each one before doing a pot-melt with recycled bottle glass.
The hassle factor was high, as were the potential material costs. Then it dawned on me, what if the kids made a reverse portrait with clay, I put it at the bottom of a standard size mold, and the glass melts down in. Reusable molds (in this case, extra deep terra cotta saucers, of which I own exactly 3, but which are cheap and readily available). Problem solved!
Except no one makes the saucers anymore. When I bought mine they were everywhere! I discovered this after submitting my final proposal. Nowhere in town, nowhere on the web. I’m sure I could have found them eventually, but not in the quantity that I needed (30).
So, to further complicate the process, I decided to make the saucers. It’s only 30 or so, I have a ceramics kiln and how hard could it be. Turns out, not very hard, I made some nice octagonal saucers that fit on my kiln shelf nicely.
The first class to make the portraits is the 6th grade. They have a great time, understand the concept and do good work. Back to the studio go the faces.
But there is a problem, what is going to become known as the infamous gap.