Californian artist Loren Stump is a master of the ancient Italian glass art of murrine. The age-old technique involves fusing canes of glass together and slicing through them to reveal intricately patterned sections. It’s a lot like slicing through a Swiss cake roll or a loaf of bread to reveal a beautiful cross-section filled with mind-boggling classical imagery such as Da Vinci’s Virgin on the Rocks.
To create a murrine, Stump works backwards – he starts with a two-dimensional image. He then layers different colors of molten glass around a core, heating and stretching it into a rod. When cooled, the rod can be sliced into the desired thickness, with each slice possessing the same pattern in the cross-section. Murrine was first practiced over 4,000 years ago in the Mideast, and later revived by Venetian glassmakers in the early 16th century.
Stump explained that his craft is all about “Breaking down elaborate pictures or ideas into detailed components.” He added that the components are built up from strokes of molten glass (as with paintings), to create eyes, noses and mouths. These components are then heated and stretched to a smaller size, cut into shorter pieces and assembled hot with a torch to create an image. “An elaborate image may contain hundreds of components and be assembled and pulled and reassembled many times,” he added.
He revealed that he has been working with glass since age 14 – he first started with stained glass as a hobby, and later got into it full-time. As he got better at his work, he began taking on custom orders and soon got into lampworking as well. He then made the switch to working with molten glass and began creating his own processes and tools, including a vacuum-controlled device called the ‘Stumpsucker’.
Stump has managed to not only master the craft of murrine but also take it to the next level – he can create figurative images within the cross-sections that are hidden until the rod is sliced. He is also able to combine two-dimensional forms into three-dimensional objects. The end results are so incredible that each piece is worth a hefty $5,000. Stump also creates glass statues, jewellery, paperweights, and blown pieces – all of which you can check out here.
Photos: Loren Stump
via Lost at E Minor