blue madonna
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Michelangelo Madonna Child

Pitti Tondo
Michelangelo 1503
Bargello, Florence

Michelangelo's Pitti Tondo | John Robinson

Success or disaster

Josef explained to us the process he used for casting the glass. First the sand mould is inverted over a steam bath and the melting wax drops out into the boiling water. Next he turns it over like a soup plate and places it in the cold furnace. The raw blue glass comes in tile form, about ten inches square and an inch thick. He breaks up the tiles with a hammer and carefully lays the pieces in the sand mould right to the brim then slowly raises the temperature in the furnace to 850C thus turning the glass into a molten soup. He told us that it would take nearly a month for the glass to cool. It was going to be a long slow job and all we could do was wait and pray it would still be in one piece when it was finished. It would either be a brilliant success or a complete disaster, but then that is the risky but fun part of being involved in the arts, you just never know exactly what is going to happen.

Glass manufacturer

On the way back to the airport we stopped at a glass manufacturer that Josef thought could produce the glass colour we required. Unfortunately neither Josef nor the chemist understood exactly what we meant by Madonna Blue. Luckily Peter spotted two glass samples that when held together turned to an amazing tropical sea blue colour. This solved the problem and the chemist promised to try and produce the exact colour we wanted, adding that one of the problems with glass was that colours are often not stable. Glass that is melted as blue can, when annealed, turn into a surprising variety of colours ranging from yellow, through green, all the way to black.

Vivid dreams

Through my life I have been blessed by remembering my dreams, which sometimes are very vivid. I have made Margie laugh over many a breakfast by recounting them. I have never put any store on dreams, as I suspect that they merely reflect anxiety. After this trip I awoke one morning having had the most bizarre dream which definitely reflected my concern about the glass colour. The dream went as follows.

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