12 thoughts on “Murrini cane in a kiln: Jellyrolls”

  1. Murrini! My favorite…if only they were candy I’d munch them all at once! I love working with murrini, both in jewelry and kilnwork (even though I’m still discovering the latter) I didn’t realize there all these kiln methods, so thank you for showing me some new perspectives. The only way I know is lampworking (like this one: http://kristienberghs.blogspot.com/2008/04/cat-eye-murrini.html ) which makes it easier to get them nice and round, but as a result they are on the small side (2-7mm).

    I love your chopper! 😀 May I ask where you found such a big one? I have this mosaic chopper that doesn’t open further than 5mm, so that rather limits my options. And yes, those little buggers fly everywhere! I cut mine in a bucket and that keeps them (mostly!) were I want.

    An alternative to cutting bigger canes is using a rod or tube cutter that makes a clean score all around the cane, and snap it off by hand if you’re strong enough, or with (coated) pliers, but it’s not as easy to cut thin slices…

    I read you were ill, hope you’re feeling a bit better already…get well soon, Cynthia!

  2. Hey, Kristien!
    Thanks for the good wishes. Frankly, if I’m going to make traditional-style murrini the torch or hotshop is still the fastest way to do it, and it also gives the most control. I’d agree about the murrini size on a torch, unless you’ve got one of those honkin-great multi-torch glass lathes.

    What I’m finding, though, is that kiln-made murrini have their own strengths, particularly when it’s more about repeatable shapes than interior color patterns. You can certainly do more with size–some of the ones in this post are a centimeter or more in diameter. What I’m really after are murrini in the 5-6 INCH range, and that takes us into casting.

    On the choppers–I have two. The disk nippers shown in the pic have an opening of slightly more than an inch. They’re the fastest and easiest to use with smaller cane and they seem to be the most accurate for larger diameters.

    I also have a pair of tile nippers that open to a bit more than two inches. I use those for the fattest cane I can still cut. They’re rather like pliers with curved-in, sharpened tips. Mine are fairly cheap and not all that accurate but right now they’re the only thing I have for fat kilncane.

    I lust after a cane chopper for my studio, but the cheapest I’ve found so far is a US$375 guillotine cutter, and that’s a bit pricey for the occasional murrini needs. Are these the kinds of things you’re talking about?

    I’ve used a simple pipe cutter from the hardware store and it works surprisingly well on hotworked cane, although it’s a bit slow. Kilnformed cane is so far too irregular in shape and texture for it to work consistently, and I’m looking for thin slices (3-9mm), which is hard to do.


  3. Also you can make some pretty good ones using a round ceramic “pipe”
    I don’t know what else to call it.
    kiln wash the inside and then put a piece of thinfire around the inside, covering all of the “pipe”.
    Fill this with rods,strips and stringer.stand on end on a piece of fiberpaper and fire. Try and get the ceramic “pipe” as long as you can, as the assembly will shrink down to about 3/4 of the unfired length.
    I think that you can get the ceramic at either Georgies or Seattle pottery.
    with a little practice you can make some pretty good ones.
    I lost my camera or I would post some pics.

  4. Hey, Jim. Yup, I’ve been experimenting with stainless steel pipe lined with fiber paper and fired standing on end. Makes a nice round cane, but my shrinkage is more than 25%–closer to 50-60%. And in a conventional fusing kiln where the height is maybe 13 inches, you don’t get a lot of cane out of one pipe.

    I’d think that the ceramic pipe does pretty much the same thing. Carol Carson said that they were playing with this up at Pilchuck and the pipe isn’t actually necessary–it can be done with wire, dams and fiber paper.

    I’m trying that next, actually–the next installment will be talking about ways to fire vertically in a short kiln.

  5. just wondering. why all he work to make round cane? when you lay them all up to fuse they go to geometric shapes any way.
    I do mine ala David Ruth. Cut a zillion strips. +/-20cm long. Bundle them in the pattern you wish with all the colors and patterns you may contrive. Tie them with copper wire once, in the middle once, or twice-once at the upper part once at the lower part. Just a single strand will do for each tie. (1.5mm cu wire, w/out the insulation) Stand the critters up in your kiln, preheat to bout 500ºC and hold. When the glory hole is fired up (an old beer keg lined with ceramic fiber works great…cut a hole in the lower end – not the bottom – and use that for the entry for the torch) touch the upper end of the bundle with a punty/marvered glass and you have a captive bundle. Heat it up in the glory hole till it starts to get soft. Marver it with something handy to press the air out and the glass strips together… As you heat it again, it will begin to stick together enough for you to cut and remove the cu wire, and you have the beginning of a big murrini. Work it into shape on the marver till you have a solid mass. Don’t keep turning it the same direction all the time or it will spiral. When it is homogeneous, pull it out to the diameter you want. It needn’t be round, but it may be. Imagine. When its pulled to the length you want, pop it back in the kiln and take another one. It’s fun, and you don’t need much more than a big torch, like they use on the asphalt crew, and your homemade glory hole, and your favorite refreshment. ;O)

    glad to see up and around

  6. as an after thought. A maxwell coffee can with sand will help ya with the strip setup. When you get it all the way you want it, tie the bundle and shake the sand back into the can. A sawn off wine bottle will work too. Or a plastic jug…

  7. Hey Sunny. Thanks! Feeling better–doc says it’ll be about a month before my lungs are back to normal, which is kinda icky, but hey.

    I’ve done cane in the gloryhole in the way you describe, and love doing it…but this was mostly an exercise to see just how close I could get to classical coin-shaped murrini using only a kiln. Frankly, even the stuff I’m gonna talk about–firing vertically, casting, etc.–isn’t as easy as doing it in a hotshop.

    OTOH, the kiln-only approach does make some types of cane a lot easier, and that’s kind of where I’m headed.

    I tried the sand approach, only I used tiny steel shot. I’ve also used florist’s foam in much the same way. It works pretty well without trapping grains between components. The tape’s a bit quicker, but maybe I’ll go back and try it with sand, just for the heckuvit. I once had some rancid butter that I thought might work…but the butter melts and then you really have a mess. 😉

  8. Oh, holy cow, Greg! That stuff is fantastic. I’m trying to get the last couple of firings done for the vertical murrini chunk of this series, and I’ll make sure to include a link to his work there–really meticulous.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. on the vertical firing inside a ceramic or stainless steel tube I use fiber paper of course to wrap around the glass but I also extend it beyond the tube in height and fill that with left over bits of clear glass – that way I have something to hold on to when I’m cutting and it acts as a weight to compact the glass design below.

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