Thursday, August 29, 2019

Murano, Murrini, Millefiori and Other Glass Confusion

Fish with murrini eyes and decorative murrini accents
Today, when I was getting ready for a bit of torch fun, I threw out this sentence~ 'I'm just going to make a few murrini.' The response? 'I thought you had to go to Italy to do that.' Hmmm, and this from someone who has slogged through many years of listening to me talk about glass, glass and more glass. I'm sure a lot of folks are confused by glass terms because, well, a lot of them sound similar. And what's with all the Italian words?! So I'm here to, hopefully, make a little of it make sense.

Follow this link to find out more about the language of lampwork.

Murano~ Many of you are familiar with 'Murano Glass'. Murano glass is simply glass that is made by traditional methods on the island of Murano in Italy. But... The supplies for most of the beads I make are made on that same island. Some companies will call their glass Murano glass because the raw materials for the items are made in Murano. There are actually strict rules about what should labeled Murano glass ~ find more information about that here.

Making the cane
Heating the glass to stretch it
The canes before being cut
Murrini~ A slice of composite cane which creates a pattern in cross section. Lino Tagliapietra gives a thorough explanation on his website. There are a number of different ways to make this cane, both over a torch and in the kiln. Glass is layered into a large barrel shape, which creates a pattern within. The cane is then heated and stretched into a thinner rod, which reveals a pattern in cross section when it is sliced after it has cooled. These slices or chips are then applied to hot glass in a number of different ways. They can be applied on the surface or encased with clear glass; melted flat to the larger glass piece or left as bumps on the glass. Nearly any pattern can be made using this technique, as shown by Loren Stump. Find more information here. My own murrini are pretty simple. I've still got a lot to learn in that department!

Millefiori~ Italian for 'thousand flowers', millefiori is a lot of murrini laid up right next to each other, often covering an entire glass piece or an area of a piece. I personally expect the murrini in a piece referred to as millefiori to be patterned in a way that looks like flowers. Otherwise, I would refer to the glass piece as having a 'mosaic' design., which is what these patterns were called prior to about 1849.

Moretti~ A type of soft glass commonly used in glass beadmaking which is made by the Effetre company on the island of Murano.

Here's a wee bit more about my own murrini use.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Removing a stuck lampwork bead from a mandrel.

Removing a Stuck Bead From a Mandrel

Here's what I have found works particularly well for removing long, thin glass beads from a mandrel (a tip from my book 'Reflections, the Diary of a Glass Beadmaker'). Tubes can be more difficult to remove from your mandrel than other types of beads due to the larger amount of glass that is in contact with the mandrel.
Soak the beads in water for a little while. Grab mandrel right below the bead with vice grips (at the long end of the mandrel). Make sure the vicce grips are tight on the mandrel and perpendicular to it. Grab the bead firmly with a paper towel or flexible jar opener. Turn the whole apparatus so that the bead is at the bottom. Grip the bead firmly and (here's the trick!) wiggle the vice grips (not the bead) back and forth and turn them until the bead loosens. Once the bead has loosened, twist and pull it to remove completely.

I have heard that soaking in vinegar may help, and also that putting a bead in the freezer might help because the metal mandrel contracts a little bit. For me, the vice grips method works best.