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Testing the Theory of the Breast-Shaped Champagne Coupe

Spoiler: Nope

In the interest of pursuing the truth of the champagne coupe, in the course of reporting the Eater Feature "Myth Busts: The Enduring Legacy of Breast-Shaped Glassware" I had a glass drinking vessel cast from my left breast. The endeavor was by no means a faithful historical recreation (even if the myth of the breast-modeled coupe were true, it’s unlikely a woman of Marie Antoinette’s lofty status would subject herself to such an inglorious task); rather, it was a rigorous scientific experiment. I posited that a glass cast from an actual human breast would not resemble any sort of vessel you’d expect to fill with a fine sparkling wine, and—through no fault of the expert glassmakers who aided me in my stunt—I was, at least in the case of a glass based on my own breast, proven right.

The process was precise, but the execution was indelicate. Standing topless in the studio at Brooklyn Glass, I leaned over a table, hands down and torso bent at a ninety degree angle, while moldmaker Emily Craddock used her hands to cover my breast in alginate, a polysaccharide gum that picked up my breast’s every hair, pore, and impression. The gum mold would be soft and yielding, so she covered my alginate-coated breast in a thick layer of Plaster of Paris to create a "mother mold" to hold its shape. (Despite my jejune giggling and one very cold nipple, I was fairly comfortable during this bizarre process.) Once the plaster was set and removed, Emily poured hot wax into the supported alginate mold, creating a "wax positive" which itself served as the mold for a plaster "wax negative" that the glass itself would be blown into. In the studio’s hot shop, glassblower Josh Raiffe blew the breast-cup, and turned it into a wine glass by adding a stem and foot.

When I saw my coupe—well, I relished in its deformities. Despite being molded directly from my breast, the result was unrecognizable: Some combination of my own fidgeting, the basic laws of gravity, and and inevitable imperfections in my left breast conspired to result in a nearly unrecognizable form resting atop a traditional coupe stem. It looks nothing like a breast, and is wholly unconducive to drinking any liquid, let alone champagne. But every time I drink from my own very personal coupe, I’ll toast to Marie Antoinette and the rest of the long line of women who were talked about, made into objects, and kept under glass, but never allowed themselves to be reduced to mere vessels.