Note: This post was originally published on January 20, 2011. Since then, some of these offerings have changed, and more murrini makers are offering kilnformer supplies, so I thought this needed an update.
- Murrini cane in a kiln: Sandwiches, Part I
- Murrini cane in a kiln: Jellyrolls
- Murrini cane in a kiln: The rod pod
- Kinda like peanuts
But I gotta tell you, it’s a lot of work and it’s not cheap. So what do you do if you want good-looking, kiln-fusing murrini that you don’t have to make yourself?
The vast majority of murrini makers are using 104COE (Moretti/Effetre) soft glass, which is NOT compatible with the most popular fusing glasses. Some will custom-produce their designs in 90- or 96-COE glasses if you ask…but you gotta ask.
There are a few artists producing (and selling) traditional murrini using Bullseye-compatible or Spectrum 96-compatible glass, and there’s some impressive stuff out there. It’s consistently-sized, it’s repeatable, you can buy as much as you want to cover large areas…and some of it is absolutely gorgeous.
I thought it’d be useful to keep a running list of such places on my blog.
CAUTION: The murrini sold on these sites is often intended for torchworkers and may or may not work well in a kiln. The better sites (or at least the ones that aren’t aimed exclusively at working on the torch) will tell you which murrini are torch- or hotshop-only, but most won’t. In addition, these are hand-made, non-factory murrini so the diameter of each slice can sometimes vary dramatically.
Also, be careful to note the COE of the particular murrini you’re buying–many sites sell more than one and it’s easy to fall in love with a pattern, buy a bunch and then find you’ve got 104 when you wanted Bullseye. I’ve found it best to test one or two chips in the kiln before using them in production. Melt them into clear glass and check them through a polariscope to make sure that your new murrini really does work with your project.
If you make fusing murrini for sale, or you know of other murrini-makers who sell online, lemme know and I’ll check it out.
Please note: I’m only listing independent makers who regularly sell Bullseye, COE90, and/or COE96 murrini online. Many fusing supply stores (including Bullseye’s resource centers) sell compatible murrini chips. Sometimes they come from the following suppliers. They can also be made by local artisans, or by store employees, or a factory in Malaysia, or… something.
If you’ve got a retail outlet that sells murrini close by, check it out first (I like to support local merchants). You can handle the murrini before you buy, you don’t have to wait for shipment, and you’re pretty much guaranteed it’ll work with whatever glass the store sells (or that you can get a refund if it doesn’t).
Disadvantages? Well, you’ll often find a much smaller selection than if you buy online. And you may not be able to buy a lot of a single pattern–many stores bundle many different designs into a small “grab bag.” That can make it difficult to buy enough for a repeating pattern.
Fusible murrini makers who sell online
Glacial Art Glass. Bullseye and 96COE. This lady (Correction; I just met the proprietor tonight at the Oregon Glass Guild meeting, and he’s definitely a guy.) offers regular and small murrini–the regular ranges from 5-12mm in diameter; the small is 3-6mm. The canes are primarily based on flowers, i.e., millifiore, and there’s a wonderful variety.
The site is well-organized and attractive and lets you buy with PayPal or credit card. Each murrini is listed with enlarged before- and after-fusing photos, with rules and coins to show scale, and information about which Bullseye colors went into the murrini (critical info if you want to avoid color reactions).
Glacial is so far the only site I’ve found that’s really focused on murrini made of kilnforming glass. Glacial sells murrini by weight, so it’s difficult to compare prices with other sellers. You’ll pay around $4 for a sample bag of ten slices to $12 for a half-ounce of murrini. Apparently you can also order the uncut cane for $8 and size the murrini yourself–yay!
The site looks professionally done and is the easiest to use of the ones listed here. Product pages offer related murrini styles, and some advice on chopping and using the slices, and the shopping cart system worked well.
Glacial does tend to be out of stock on a bunch of stuff, so it would be helpful if they showed exactly which packaging (sample, half-ounce or cane) was in stock before you clicked on the product page. It’s a little irritating to decide on a purchase, click to order and then find out it’s out of stock…but this is a minor quibble in an otherwise great site.
UPDATE 8/29/12: Doing some murrini pendant projects (and they’re turning out wonderfully even as they deplete my murrini supply), so headed back to Glacial for more. They’ve definitely improved the site: There’s a stock availability tag now, and even more information on how to use their murrini in your work. They’ve also got an Etsy presence, but you’ll find a much bigger selection on their website, along with a few varieties of zanfirico cane and sample bags.
NEXT UPDATE 11/12/14: Their murrini stash is growing, website is updated only intermittently, so it sometimes helps to contact directly, I’ve found. A half ounce (40-90 slices, depending on the cane diameter) is around $15 for most designs. And they’ve got zanfirico, sometimes called “twisties.”
UPDATE AFTER THAT 3/12/16: OK, they also sell “dots,” which are basically Bullseye rod you don’t have to chop up yourself, which saves your wrists and fingers.
Chase Designs. 104, Bullseye, boro. The murrini slices from Chase Designs are absolutely gorgeous, intended to be used in paperweights and marbles and such. There are beautifully shaded butterflies and whales, wonderful lips and eyes, words and flowers and fish and more.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that these things really aren’t intended for kilnformers. Greg Chase is a boro glass artist, i.e. he works with the hard stuff at a very hot torch, and he is a master, so there’s relatively little Bullseye-compatible stuff.
What there is (as in the picture at left) is VERY different from the usual BE millifiore cane, and really worth a second look. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with at least one cane that’s disappointingly 104, and you’ll see the boro coins and murrini chips and think you’re in love. There’s a chance that Chase will make it up in Bullseye, maybe, if you ask really REALLY nicely?
This is an Etsy site, so it’s automatically well-organized. Chase does NOT tell you which Bullseye colors went into each murrini, so as far as reactivity is concerned, you’re on your own. (Or you can ask)
They take PayPal, money orders and checks. Not surprisingly, these murrini are a bit pricier, ranging from around 35 cents each ($7 for a bag of 25) to about 85 cents a pop ($8.50 for a bag of ten). Given the work that went into these, I think it’s eminently reasonable, but I won’t be paving a 22-inch platter with these things anytime soon.
UPDATE 8/29/12: I couldn’t make murrini-containing pendants without visiting Chase, and–whew–they’ve REALLY upped the quantity of 90 COE murrini they sell. I just took possession of six bags of parrots, fish and butterflies and they are fabulous.
NEXT UPDATE 11/12/14: REALLY REALLY SAD NEWS!! Greg and Deanna are discontinuing their non-boro lines to concentrate on borosilicate murrini. I understand why; they are simply masters at the craft, and at the level they’re working, they deserve the spotlight. Whatever stock they have left is on sale at their Etsy store, so snap it up, guys.
UPDATE AFTER THAT 3/12/16: It looks like the soda-lime murrini are back in the game at Chase’s Etsy store, at least for now, so get ’em while they’re hot!
Feng Frit Factory. 96, 104, Bullseye, boro. The full complement of stuff isn’t onsite yet, apparently, as Feng Frit dumps its Etsy store and moves to its own hosted site. There is a LOT of stuff here, although the bulk of it is 104/96 COE, so Bullseye users beware.
The site itself isn’t as usable as Glacial’s–which so far is about the best small glassist supply site I’ve used. But it’s still very well-organized and useful, showing you related murrinis, good images and other very cool products such as cubic zirconia, silver foil and powder and handpulled stringer.
Their murrini generally sells by the piece, with the prices I’ve seen ranging from about $3 for ten chips (30 cents each) to $8.50 for 25 Bullseye chips (34 cents each).
NEXT UPDATE 11/12/14: Sad news. Looks like the website’s gone away–if anyone knows where these guys are, let me know.
Hegan Glassworks. 96 only. The pickin’s are slim here, and what’s sold is primarily intended for glassblowing so it’s longer lengths of cane. OTOH, that gives you a lot of control over slice diameter if you’re interested in fusing, and there are some gorgeous choices. You will need a murrini chopper, or a heavy hammer with wide jaws to chop these things, so be warned.
Hegan sells both cane and murrini, and it mostly looks like they’re selling whatever’s leftover from their own production runs. From what I can tell they only offer assorted murrini packs, although you might be able to prevail upon them to produce a lot of something for you on a custom basis. Still, as I said, it’s beautiful, unusual stuff.
It’s also, once again, meant for GLASSBLOWING. Before you use this in a kiln project, test a small slice, as I said.
The store is run through Auctiva on a bidding basis, so it’s hard to say what you’ll pay for your order, or what you’ll find when you visit. Right now, a pound of “jewelry scrap murrini” is up for $5.50, which looks like a very good deal. The much longer glassblowing canes are selling for around $25/pound.
NEXT UPDATE 11/12/14: Still doing business in 96, with both cane and larger murrini.
UPDATE AFTER THAT 3/16/2016: Site’s still there, slimmer still on the pickins, at least today. But there was some kinda cool scrap murrini I wouldn’t mind bidding on if I were a 96 kinda gal…
Lori & Kim. 104, 96 and Bullseye “occasionally.” If I had to pick one word for what Lori and Kim produce, it would be “delicious.” The color combinations of their murrini remind me of very sophisticated candies, and I keep buying batches of these things even when I don’t need them because they’re just so cool to sift through your fingers and watch.
Their murrini is torch-made and smallish (2.5-4mm), what I call “bead murrini.” They tend to sell assortments in a particular color way or palette (what you see at left is their “Heyday” collection in mostly hot colors). There are Clichy-style roses, flowers, bullseyes, swirls…I’d despair of getting enough of any one color to do much with it unless I special-ordered a bunch, but as a grouping these would be great.
This is an Etsy store, accepting PayPal and credit cards, with not a lot of information outside catalog/product info. You can see a LOT more about them on their respective websites–they’re primarily beadmakers with some beautiful stuff–and I wish they’d do more with kilnformable murrini.
UPDATE 8/10/12: Ask and ye shall receive, apparently. There are seven different styles of 90 COE murrini on their Etsy store right now–I just took possession of three bags-worth–and it definitely lives up to its promise. These are geometric, reminiscent of that old-fashioned Christmas candy you find in Europe, and the color choices are luscious. I ordered the “candy” and “grab bag” assortments and, as I suspected, I’d really REALLY love to be able to order two or three canes in a couple of these designs for some bigger work.
NEXT UPDATE 11/12/14: Lori and Kim are still making, and still mostly making 104, with a smattering of 96 and a bit less 90. It’s still really gorgeous stuff.
UPDATE AFTER THAT 3/16/2016: The stock of COE 90 and 96 appears to be growing, and their new website shows examples of what you can do with their murrini that, frankly, don’t do justice to how gorgeous these chips really are. (Not that the examples aren’t pretty nice). They’ve also started selling directly from their website. The biggest varieties and most gorgeous variations, unfortunately, still belong to the softglass folk who torch in 104.
Melt Glass Art Supply, boro (33), 90, 96, and 104. This Vancouver, WA store is relatively new to me, but they have lots of very tasty stuff for the glassmaker, including cane and murrini, and they cater to the torchworker/glassblower crowd. However, they have a bunch of stuff that kilnformers will be interested in, and they’re very much worth a look (so I plan to, shortly).
There’s not much in the way of murrini so far, at least not online, and it’s not clear whether they’re making these or distributing them for the makers. I’ll keep them on this listing until I know for sure (I really want this page to be exclusively about MAKERS of murrini). But I have a feeling that you could probably call the owners and get a much better picture (and selection). They’ve also got a selection of dichroic-coated glasses that appears unrivaled, and would be reason enough to go check them out.
Boy. What do you non-northwest folk do for your kiln glass? (gloat)