Murrine ancient glass technique – design dictionary

Example of Mixed Murrine Sphere
Example of Mixed Murrine Sphere

Murrine is a glass technique invented in Roman times in the emulation of vases in murrha (ornamental stone). (Terraroli, 2001)  When a glass cane is cut into thin cross-sections, coloured patterns or images created in the cane are revealed as murrine (plural: murrina). Murrine can be created in an infinite variety of patterns, from straightforward circular or square shapes to intricate, detailed images and even human portraits. One well-known design is the flower or star shape, which is known as millefiori when used in large quantities from a variety of canes. (Murrine – Wikipedia, 2017)

A Cane of Glass

“A cane is a long and narrow piece of glass, usually in the form of a rod.” (Overview – Cane/Murrini – LibGuides at Corning Museum of Glass, 2022) A compact mass of hot glass is stretched, sometimes to a great length, to create canes (twenty metres or more). A large “gather” of one colour can make up the glass being pulled, but more frequently, there is a core of coloured glass that is heavily covered in clear glass. Attaching previously made canes to the outside of contrasting soft glass and pulling the cane while twisting the tools will produce more intricate designs. (Overview – Cane/Murrini – LibGuides at Corning Museum of Glass, 2022)

Modern Murrine

These characteristics are typical of the Venetian style; they have been in use for centuries, and traditional pieces are still produced today. Vittorio Ferro, a Venetian designer, and several 20th-century glassmakers, including Richard Marquis, Sabine Lintzen, Jesse Taj, and David Sobel, have modernised the style by reinterpreting it. Some employ the strong, contrasting colours that were popular during the design revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, but it is also possible to find murrines that are sparse and haphazardly placed. Others favour contemporary themes like cartoon characters. (Miller, 2004) 

Sources

Murrine – Wikipedia: Murrine – Wikipedia. (2017, June 5). en.wikipedia.org. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murrine

Terraroli, V. (2001, December 7). Skira Dictionary of Modern Decorative Arts. Skira. https://doi.org/10.1604/9788884910257

Overview – Cane/Murrini – LibGuides at Corning Museum of Glass: LibGuides: Cane/Murrini: Overview. (2022, May 26). libguides.cmog.org. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://libguides.cmog.org/murrini

Miller, J. (2004, November 1). 20th Century Glass.

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