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Hotheaded Skywhale gets heart of glass

THE many-breasted, much-maligned Skywhale was put to the flame on Saturday. But the bold artwork was not reduced to a pile of ashes, as perhaps its harshest critics may have hoped.

Instead, a new piece, crafted by some of the world's leading glass artists, took shape at the Canberra Glassworks.

It took about 2½ hours for the glass version of renowned sculptor Patricia Piccinini's design to be completed. The original balloon was also tethered at the Glassworks and Megalo for two hours.

The piece, sponsored by the Englobo Group, was made in celebration of the Canberra Centenary and the Kingston Foreshore arts precinct.

''It does look amazing,'' Glassworks chief executive Ann Jakle said.

''These glass-blowers, some of them are the best glass-blowers in Australia, which also means some of them are the best glass-blowers in the world,'' she said.

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The work was technically difficult and involved a team who had never worked together on the form of the Skywhale.

The glass was formed in four parts - the body, the sides, the front and the tail - before being carefully joined together.

''It's a little bit like being in a jazz band when you're performing glass at this level,'' Ms Jakle said.

''You know the piece that you're playing, you know the composition … and then you have to do a lot of improvising, but working in with each other,'' she said.