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The History Behind Pate-De-Verre

THE CREATION PROCESS OF LIULI CRYSTAL ART

Lost-wax Casting (Pâte de verre)

One of the main techniques used by LIULI in producing glass is known as “lost-wax casting” (pâte de verre). In this process, a refractory mold is fashioned by coating a wax model with a layer of fire- resistant plaster; once the plaster is dry, the wax is heated until it liquefies and drains off, hence the name “lost-wax.” The resulting mold is then filled with molten glass. The advantage of this technique is that it allows for the inclusion of minute details in the final artworks and expands possibilities for the artist’s unique expressions.

During the 19th century glass artisans in France revived the lost-wax casting technique used in ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, which subsequently became a major element of the Art Nouveau style, leading to a new wave of interest in glass art throughout Europe.

Archeological evidence indicates that this technique was widely used by Chinese artisans during the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), but was unfortunately not handed down by later generations. This ancient technique was revived in 1987 by LIULI, and is currently being used by over one hundred workshops throughout greater China.

The lost-wax casting requires meticulous attention to detail, since the slightest error can result in cracking, irregular air bubbles, or the introduction of impurities. The procedure consists of the following 12 steps.

THE CREATION PROCESS OF LIULI via Pâte de verre Technique

Exclusive 12-steps Glass Art Process by LIULI Crystal Art
*To Continuously Create Art for the Good of the Heart*

  1. Design and sculpting
  2. Silicone molding
  3. Infusion of molten wax
  4. Shedding of silicon mold to obtain the wax form
  5. Wax form refinement; removing imperfections
  6. Coating the wax sculpture with plaster to form a refractory mold
  7. Removal of wax with steam—the essence of the “lost-wax” process
  8. Choosing color; kiln firing
  9. Re-firing at 1,400 degrees Celsius
  10. Removal of plaster mold
  11. Retouching of details; burnishing and polishing
  12. Final inspection; etching of serial number; packaging

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Artist/Founder Loretta H. Yang leads a team of experienced artisans to create arts that honor the richness of cultural heritage and value.

Step No. 1: Design and sculpting

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Step 2 of the process involves coating our original clay sculpture in silicone. Layer after layer (3 to 7 layers) is fastidiously coated to produce a negative mold, a crucial step in capturing the prevision of the sculpture. Each layer must dry completely before additional layer is applied, thickness must be uniform to prevent leakage of wax. Once complete, the clay is removed to reveal a negative silicone mold.

Step No. 2: Silicone molding

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Pour molten wax into the negative silicone mold.

Step No. 3: Infusion of molten wax. Fill wax into a negative mold.

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Once wax has solidified and cooled, release the wax form by carefully peeling back the silicone mold. Like a butterfly molting, the silicon is shed to reveal a positive wax form.

Step No. 4: Shedding of silicon mold to obtain the wax form

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A careful refinement of the wax sculpture. Because every microinch and subtlety plays its own role in the grand scheme of beauty. Our artists refine the wax mold to its final perfection.

Step No. 5: Wax form refinement; removing imperfections

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The wax mold is placed on a wooden plank in a metal container and plaster is poured and solidified. Embedding wax form with fire-resistant plaster.

Step No. 6: Coating the wax sculpture with plaster to form a refractory mold

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Wax is steamed out of the plaster under high heat yielding a negative plaster mold.

Step No. 7: Removal of wax with steam—the essence of the “lost-wax” process

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Liuli ingredients are created through unique firing and processing of glass. Color and size appropriate pieces are placed within the plaster and fired.

Step No 8: Choosing color; kiln firing

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Fire and melt. Under intense heat, a new vision of transparency and clarity is born.

Step No. 9: Re-firing at 1,400 degrees Celsius

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Extreme patience and care are necessary when removing the plaster to prevent damage.

Step No. 10: Removal of plaster mold

When the art pieces emerge, our masters step in to carefully chip away the plaster mold. Like excavating fragile archaeological relics, one false move and you're left with broken shards.

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First comes die-cutting - smoothing the crystal down to the last microinch. Rough polish, removal of excess support, refinement and fine surface polish with a high-speed fabric wheel.

Step No. 11: Retouching of details; burnishing and polishing

Our artist refines and re-polishes each and every detail yet again.

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An etched number on the base of each piece indicates its limited edition and reminds us to never stop creating. After the engraving - an official LIULI artwork is born.

Step No.12: Final inspection; etching of serial number; packaging