Murrine and Silver Jewelry

After a fun weekend with friends at the end of last month I’m back to the writing thing. I’ve spent months agonizing over editing the first draft and rewriting. No matter how much I learn about the ego and the human psyche, they are still bitches and I continually need to sit down with them and tell them to shut the eff up! I am so grateful to the handful of people who have been so encouraging, and to those from whom I am learning by their example. I have lots to say on the writing front but I wanted to share today what I’ve been up to studio-wise.

I’ve joined the ranks of murrine collector. Maybe not a huge collector, but enough to know what I like and buy it just to look at. Here are some of my favorites:

By Greg Chase.

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By Ryan McCluer.


One of them I made into a ring, which caused me to buy more cane so I can make more rings. You can never have enough skulls.


Decompressing and Sitting with it.

Disclaimer: This post may sound like I’m really hard on myself, and I suppose I am. I am trying to be gentle with myself and look for the good in what I create and put out there. I am not fishing for compliments, rather, sharing my process, in AND outside my head. It’s what makes me tick. It’s what makes me strive to refine my technique. It’s who I am and, while it can be painful sometimes (what artist doesn’t experience that??) it’s how I roll and I’m good with that. If I weren’t, I’d quit or find a way to change it.

I am working through my thoughts about the process and outcome of my most recent murrine. LeeLoo from the movie the 5th Element.

LeeLoo Murrine from Fifth Element Movie

This is my first attempt at a portrait murrine and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It just came out of the kiln this morning. 50 hours of time mixing and pulling color, and placing the design. 17 hours in the kiln. I want to point out all the things that bug me but, who wants to hear that? I feel like I need to get on to the next project so I can redeem my shortcomings in this one. So I can say, “See! I really DO know how to do this!” I am not satisfied with not knowing how to do it. Note to self: I understand now why my 13yo might not want to always jump in and try things…what if he doesn’t do it right the first time? He might be left with this same icky feeling in his gut as I get in mine.

Things I learned from this go-round (my fourth color murrine):

1. Working larger is easier. Duh.
2. Adding ‘dots’ of saturated darker color in with your lighter color does not give the effect of a darker color. It overpowers. Do not do this ever again! If I want a darker color, I need to mix a darker color! No shortcuts.
3. Dark colors dominate. Use sparingly.
4. Using clear glass as a layer in any color makes that color SIGNIFICANTLY darker. The theory was that the clear will let the light color reflect through the clear and look even lighter. It doesn’t work that way.
5. Two light colors next to each other really blend. Use some type of darker color on the edge if you want more definition (like between the eye color and the white).
6. A dark and a light color form a line. Be careful.
7. Orange and periwinkle next to each other make my head want to explode. I don’t even like periwinkle…why did I use it?
8. Brown has a purpose somewhere but so far it has not been my friend.
9. Make sure your kiln paper goes all the way to the bottom of your tube!! Dammit.

I have to remember that my first eyeball looked like this:

first color murrine

The stringers were fat and the image was highly pixellated because I used solid color mixes. I learned that I didn’t like the pixellation and went to wrapping bands of color to mix, and made the stringers thinner. This is the much improved second version:
second eye murrineThat was kind of cool. The brown areas that were supposed to be more subtle kind of irked me but I liked this one much better than the last. Then there was the mouth:

mouth murrine

This one taught me that the stringer needed to get even thinner and started to teach me that my theories about using clear glass sometimes work, and sometimes don’t.

That’s about all I have processed right now. I’m glad I went through this exercise of comparing them all side by side. It’s also helpful to see them displayed all together.

all my color murrine

Damn that periwinkle!!!!

Murrine-making learning curve.

I’m excited at how fast I am progressing in this technique. I am learning a lot from piece to piece and I’ve only done three so far. The first being the two-color signature cane and the other being the first color eye. The following piece uses a different angle of color mixing…laying on layers of color in the stringer (think a bullseye pattern of color layering) to achieve the pointillist effect. Letting the eye make the jump. Although, the stringers are pulled so small that the eye can’t even see the rings anymore and maybe the colors do mix? Here it is right out of the kiln: stringer stack murrini Interesting. I used a different fuse schedule to help avoid air pin holes. I do think that worked and will find out more when I cut a slice but it did slump over more in that process. It could be coincidence, the new fusing schedule, the fact that the stringer may have been longer than the last one? More air because I didn’t pack it like previous ones? The latter is probably it. Here it is compared to the first experiment: mosaic murrine The first one is shorter primarily because I took a slice. You can see though that the slumping happened above where the pipe form was. I haven’t quite figured out the physics of that though because the kiln paper did extend high enough to be a form and it slumped in, not out.   mosaic murrine Completed piece. I do like it a lot. I learned that powder pink strikes a LOT in the kiln, even though it had burned out some in the flame. Another live and learn and I’ll have to try another color that will darken up the flesh tones. It looks like some of the darkness is provided by using a transparent glass in the bullseye process…interesting.stringer stack murrini Here are the two eyes I’ve done. Time to move on and practice technique on another image. Maybe a mouth? Next up, building a form other than a circle. Maybe with fiber paper and block? I’m nervous but that edge is what keeps me finding new things and process.