The Making of an Exceptional Glass Bottle – The Lost-Wax Technique

In some previous posts I gave an overview of the extravagant whisky bottles released by the Scottish whisky distillers in 2010. There is one bottle, “the Macallan in Lalique”, of which I promised to give an inside view of the creation of such an exceptional piece of craftsmanship. Not only is, for the manufacturing of the bottle, used the lost-wax technique, but you will also see the artisans of various crafts doing there work. Few words, a lot of beautiful pictures, republished with the courtesy of Sébastien Foulard of the website Vodka & Co, who wrote a similar article (in French) about this item and allowed me to use his photographs.

Here we go.

The reputation of The Macallan has been built on the outstanding quality and distinctive character of its single malt whisky. Founded in 1824, successive masters of spirit and wood have ensured a reputation for The Macallan around the world as one of the most admired and awarded of all single malt whiskies.

The Macallan 64 years old is the oldest Macallan ever released by the distillery in its 186 year history. It has been vatted from three casks, all built from sherry seasoned Spanish oak. The first was filled in 1942, the second in 1945 and the third in 1946. The 1946 cask became 64 years
old in January 2010.*
The limited edition of the rare The Macallan 64 years old is bottled in a creation of Lalique, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Frenchman René Lalique, founder of one of the world’s foremost crystal artisans. The 1.5 litre bottle, better call it a decanter, combines the creativity and craftsmanship of The Macallan and Lalique. The decanter is made by using the Cire Perdue or ‘lost wax’ technique – a technique directly inspired from an ancient process used to create bronze sculptures.

Born on 6th April 1860, René Lalique, an artistic genius whose wonderful creations were drawn from nature and from the feminine form, first in jewellery and then in glass, laid the foundations of Lalique, renowned today as the masters of crystal. Sought after around the world by collectors,
connoisseurs and museums alike, Lalique represents the spirit and founding principles of René Lalique; artisanal skills, precision, passion and creativity.
Today, Lalique has invested in the artistic and technical training of its artists to master this extraordinary technique. A new workshop has been created on the 150th anniversary of René Lalique’s birth in 1860, dedicated entirely to the ‘lost wax’ process, to make the first Cire Perdue pieces in eighty years, including The Macallan 64 years old in Lalique.

After first modelling a design in wax, it is covered with plaster and baked in an oven until the wax melts. Once cooled, a block of crystal is placed on top and returned to the oven. This then melts into the shape. The plaster outer is removed revealing the crystal decanter.
The ‘lost wax’ technique creates a unique texture that is likened to a ‘crystal skin’, giving each valuable piece a truly realistic and vivid aspect.
It is clear that the Cire Perdue is a complex, costly and very time consuming technique.

The decanter shape is based upon a ship’s decanter of the 1820s, the same decade in which The Macallan was founded, in 1824. Lalique felt the shape was perfect to create the beautiful panorama of The Macallan estate in north east Scotland.

Lalique’s designer in Paris and master craftsmen at the Lalique works in Wingen-sur-Moder, Alsace, worked together to highlight the beauty of this 150 hectare estate; the oak woodlands, the fields of exclusive barley, the mighty river Spey flowing past its borders to the south, spanned by
Telford’s famous bridge of 1814, and The Macallan’s spiritual home, Easter Elchies House, built in 1700, lying at the heart of the estate.

The decanter travelled across the world, from Paris on April 6, 2010 to the end in New York City at the Sotheby’s auction held 15th November, 2010. During the decanter’s ‘Tour du Monde’, the decanter was the focal point for a number of events involving media, invited guests from
trade partners, connoisseurs and collectors of both these great brands.
At each stop of the tour, The Macallan and Lalique auctioned a 10cl bottle of The Macallan 64 Year Old in Lalique: Cire Perdue. All proceeds from the auctions are donated the to charity: “water”, an organisation dedicated to providing people in developing countries with clean, safe drinking water”.

I end this article with a photo series. Enjoy the creation of the The Macallan in Lalique decanter.

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8 responses to “The Making of an Exceptional Glass Bottle – The Lost-Wax Technique

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Making of an Exceptional Glass Bottle – The Lost-Wax Technique « Best In Packaging -- Topsy.com·

  2. Beautiful. Thanks for the explanation of the lost wax technique. I had heard of it but was never certain was it was. The photos that follow the text are excellent visuals as well.

  3. Congratulations on a beautifully illustrated description of the lost wax technique! What is not described (unless I missed it) is how the stopper was made: is it all cut (one of the images seems to indicate this) – or was also some investment casting technique involved?
    My interest is based on two paperweights I own – but don’t know how they were made. I have started a thread on them on http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,39887.0.html (where I also link to your page) with some images: any explanation of their production method would be welcome.
    Best regards – Wolf

  4. Thank you for your fast response, Anton!
    What does that imply for my paperweights? Could the owl have been cut as well? The skull definitely must have been using some other method.

    • Wolf, I don’t know. There are many techniques for engraving, embedding or whatever object in paperweights. I can’t answer your question without seeing the items.

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