Milissa Montini - contemporary glass art
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The art of murrini by Milissa Montini

My work features the use of murrini canes.  I have been experimenting with the use of flameworked murrini which are cut to fit together and then kiln fused.  The resulting “plate” is then ground to reveal the intricate patterns inside and then slumped into shape.  This process is tedious and time consuming, taking 2 to 4 months to create a finished piece.

Watch the process in this video:

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What is murrini?

There are many different ways that murrini is spelled: Murrini, Murrina, Murrhine, murrine. Regardless of how it is spelled Murrini, Murrine, Murrhine, murrine, is a cane made by “layering up” hot bits of colored glass, or by fusing together preformed components which are melted in such a way that the various colors join together to create patterns and pictures that are then pulled (like taffy to make the cane smaller in diameter). The end result is an image within the cross section of the glass cane. When the patterned cane is cooled it is cut into slices.

The name murrini is said to be derived from the ancient murrini bowls or the Italian word murra, the material from which they were supposedly made.

Murrina: A single cross section chip of mosaic cane.

Mosaic cane is a generic term for all glass cane that has a pattern in the cross section. This is an all purpose term used to describe any glass cane that has been “layered up” and “drawn out” (pulled like taffy while hot)  so as to have an image or a design in the cross section.

.'Canna' or Cane: The Italian word used on the island of Murano off of Venice, Italy, to define solid and perforated glass rods that contain the same design in cross section at any point in which they are cut.

'Canne-di-Canne' or Composite Cane: A cane that has a pattern made by bundling together other less complex canes and then re-stretching it, thus making one cane with a complex design.

The Egyptian name for glass was 'iner en wedeh' literally meaning 'stone of the kind that flows.' The Egyptians soon realized that if  they layered multi-colored pieces of glass, like the mosaic inlay they did so well, and heated that bundle up that they could then stretch it down and reduce it in size without distorting the image.
The first mosaic glass is thought to have been produced in Egypt as early as the 360 B.C. and reached its height of popularity in Rome and Alexandria during the two centuries around the birth of Christ. It reappeared the last quarter of the nineteenth century on the island of Murano, the Italian glass center off the city of Venice.

Excerpts from an article by Brian Kerkvliet, copyright 4/1/97

To read more access:

What is Fusing?

Fusing is one of several ways of joining pieces of glass with heat until they bond.

What is Lampworking?

Lampworking is an older term for any glass-working technique done with the direct flame of a torch. The term “lampwork” derives from the use of a flame from an oil lamp.

What is Flameworking?

This technique is used to form small objects or decorated beads from colored rods of glass that, when heated over a flame, become soft and can be manipulated into desired shapes. Formerly, the source of the flame was an oil or paraffin lamp used in conjunction with foot-powered bellows; today, gas-fueled torches are used.

What is Coldworking?

The generic name refers to a wide variety of techniques used to form glass sculpture without heat. Coldworking as a skill is completely different from hot glass furnace work and involves such techniques as grinding, sawing, carving, etching, cutting, laminating, or polishing.




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