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The National Glass Centre, Sunderland recently produced the first in a series of iconic crystal glass stag head sculptures crowning new point of sale display gondolas which form part of a £1M re-branding exercise for Glenfiddich. It is anticipated that up to 21 of these exquisite casts will be unveiled at major airports worldwide.

The primary sculpting was done at Windsor Workshops London & the process of manufacturing in glass was then handed over to National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland, who invited Katya Izabel Filmus to undertake the mould-making and casting process. The commission is project managed by Chris Blade Senior Manager for Enterprise at the Glass Centre.

The National Glass Centre won the tender because of its incredible specialist resources, technical knowhow & ability to meet the exacting standards required for a project of this complexity.

Ian Taylor, Global Marketing Manger for Travel Retail at William Grant & Sons said: "From the outset we wanted to create a piece that was far closer to art than to retail furniture. As the project progressed it became obvious that we needed to work with the very best glass team available, and that meant Katya and Chris at the NGC in Sunderland."

The first Crystal Head graces Heathrow's Terminal 5 and is the 'jewel in the crown' of Glenfiddich's re-branded travel retail display. The second & third were unveiled in Frankfurt & Dubai airports at the end of 2010. More are currently being produced & will follow throughout 2011.

Each Crystal Head uses 50kg of the finest 30% lead crystal glass. The antlers are made separately & bonded after the final polish with hydrofloric & sulphuric acids.

The photos essay illustrates the production methods.
The Lost Wax process was selected as the most appropriate process for this project. Moulds are made using plaster & silica, reinforced with layers of wire. The glass is then melted into the mould in a kiln. It must then be cooled very slowly. For this project the annealing cycle was in excess of 6 weeks.

Photo essays of other casting projects may be seen by following links below:


  1. Casting a human head in glass
  2. The complete production process of a major Award for AkzoNobel. See the finished Award here
  3. Other glassmaking processes