Exhibiting my work I am often asked how I make my glass. This is not an easy thing to explain in words as there are so many different “steps” in the making. However, I have tried to do my best here to make the working process clear. I wish to point out that I use these techniques to achieve a means to an end. In other words, I am exploring different ways of how to express my feelings through art and glass and I found the technique of pulling canes to murrini and “roll-ups” as an excellent way express what I want.
In my work I combine three different techniques; hotworked, kilnformed and coldworked glass. Each one requires its own practical and theoretical experiences.
I start by making small “square-bits” which is called murrini. Murrini is a very old technique which the ancient Roman people brought back from Egypt around 1st century A.D. The first vasa murrhina bowls in glass were imitations of semi-precious stone vessels. This technique was revived in Venice in the 1880s.
To make my murrini I need coloured sheets of glass which I buy through a company named Bullseye in USA. I cut the glass and stack it in blocks like a sandwich. I put the glass in the kiln and slowly warm it to the right temperature.
After I have picked up the warm glass from the kiln on a blowpipe, I start the process of thoroughly heating the glass block right to the middle in the glory hole and press out any air bubbles.
My assistant come with some hot glass to act as a weight in the pulling part of the work.
After around 15 minutes in the hot workshop I can pull the block out to a 1,5 meter long cane. If the glass is too warm it will end up on the floor, if it is too cold I can’t pull it because it is too hard.
The cane is annealing in the kiln to room temperature. Then I cut the cane to small murrini on the diamond saw.
From here the work can either be kilnworked (left) or hotworked (right).
I assemble the murrini glass like a jigsaw puzzle and melt them together in the kiln. This is called fusing.
Wheel cutting and grinding, polishing, etching and engraving. A kilo of the glass disappears here by me coldworking the piece. This is to get structure, finish and a light absorbing surface into the glass.
The last time the piece goes in the kiln I bend the glass into its final form. This is called slumping.
Finished kilnformed and coldworked glass
Hotworked / blown glass
I load a pick-up kiln with the murrini bits on a ”ferro”. Then I use a “pastorale” – a fork – to get the glass from the warm pick-up kiln to the glory hole. Warm murrini bits are then pressed/glued together to form a tile.
I roll this tile up on a pre-made glass collar on a blowpipe, join the seams to form a cylinder and close the bubble. Now I can start the “traditional” glass blowing by forming and shaping the bubble.
Cold working and wheel cutting the piece and finished vessel of glass in this murrini pick-up technique to the right
To make these vessels I first pre-fuse a tile of glass. I pick up the tile from the kiln and then close in a similar way that described above. This technique is called “the australian roll-up” in the glass world.