Hundreds of pieces of colored glass are melted together in intricate patterns to create detailed scenes and portraits.
You may have made some millefiori masterpieces in Fimo clay as a kid, but one self-taught artist based in California is taking that craft to the next level. Loren Stump makes murines, rods of colored glass that are melted together in particular patterns. The surprise, as with a geode, comes when the glass is sliced open, revealing a scene constructed out of the glass rods that is often inspired by medieval art.
The murrina method of glassblowing is more than 4,000 years old and originated in the Middle East, but it’s perhaps most famous to Westerners through its Italian variations, which were developed on the island of Murano. It mostly differs from the well-known millefiori technique, which mostly deals with abstract patterns like stars and flowers, through its attempts at more sophisticated subjects.
Stump’s most complex 2D work is a detailed interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virgin on the Rocks,” but he goes beyond typical expectations of the murine medium, also delving into the intricate details one can make when slicing the glass rods in half. He has used this three-dimensional technique to create contoured portraits of Henry VIII, Walt Whitman, and James Joyce, the latter two of which were used in glass orbs by another glass artisan, Paul Stankard. Another “Angel” pendant was carefully drilled so that it could accept a bail; it can now be worn as a pendant.
Stump’s three-dimensional work includes pieces made with the murine technique as well as the more traditional statues made by bending the glass under intense, direct heat from a flame jet. Some of his sculptures even combine the two techniques to create a statue of a courtesan, for example, who is more than a foot tall and carries intricately detailed accessories made out of murines.
As you can imagine, these crafts are one-of-a-kind and expensive, with the Da Vinci murine selling for more than $5,000. How can you get one of your own? By taking a class, of course. Stump offers frequent courses out of his studio in Elk Grove, CA, but he has also traveled around the world to teach; his photo collection includes pictures of Australia, Germany, Japan and Austria. Perhaps this one-of-a-kind talent will be in your area soon.