Thursday, April 2, 2015

Before I start this post, I'd like to note that I made a mistake in the last post. The Chicago artist who mosaics potholes is Jim Bachor, not Jon. I've updated the post, but I wanted to make sure that I posted the error. My apologies to Jim.



For this post, I want to talk about a hot glass technique called murrini pulls. I had the opportunity some years ago to take a class where we made murrini pulls, and it was really exciting. I found a video of a professional studio making murrini pulls, Jonathan Cohn Glass. I think it shows how interesting and exciting hot glass can be.

So here are a couple of pictures of my own murrini pull--


I should start by saying that I have sliced off about 5 or so inches to use in projects. At one time it was longer and you could see the impression at the end where I used pliers to pull the glass while it was hot. It should be easy to see that the shape of the glass shows how it got thinner as it elongated. The dark color in the second photo is the color of the design within the white glass. 

Getting to the point where the glass could be stretched was a multi-step process. We began with creating our own design of stacks of 1/2" x 4" strips of glass. The result was a 4" x 4" cube that was then fired just so that the pieces were stuck together. 

Then using a punty stick (the steel stick used to move hot glass in the video), we began the process of heating the cube evenly in a forge. This required rotating the punty stick so that the glass starts to move, then when it begins to droop, it is pulled out and reshaped. In the video they used steel paddles, but in the workshop I took, we used cherry wood paddles that had been soaked in water overnight. The result was a very hot room that smelled strongly of singed wood. When I left, I smelled like I'd been to a bonfire. 

The most exciting part is when the glass has reached a little more than a foot, one person stands on a step stool and heats the glass with a torch, while someone else pulls the glass even further with pliers.  After that, the pull is cut from the stick and put into a kiln to anneal. 

My murrini pull is no where as elaborate as the work created at Jonathan Cohn Glass, but I had a great time making it and appreciate the discipline much more deeply.

So, one thing I have been in total awe of ever since then is that, hot glass requires coordinated assistance and can not be done alone. It's hot and dangerous, and (one more time) exciting!

May all of your scores run true!
-paula

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