The History of Murrina - Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
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Murrina is the term for the glass making technique that produces a thin glass tube of colorful pasterns and shapes. The pattern is only made visible when the tube is cut longitudinally. In carrying out this technique, the glass blower will craft a cylindrical rod of glass by repeatedly marbling it and molding it on a metal surface called the “bronzin”. Once cut, the intricate designs often represnting flowers, geometric shapes, and even animals are used to produce jewelry and fine glassware.

 

The Murrina tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire, more specifically Alexandria, Egypt. There have been mentions of this type of glassware found in artifacts dating as far back as 61 BC, in the ruins of Pompey. This century old technique traveled north to Italy where it has remained a precious part of Venetian glass making.

 

Despite the ancient roots of this glass technique, the name Murrina is a fairly new term. It is the modification of the older word, “murrha” which means a scented natural substance. This by extension, was synonymous with perfume which was often bottled in glass made from this intricate technique. Later, “murrha” was adapted to the word “murrino” and coined by Vincenzo Zaneti in 1878. The term refereed to the use of mosaic tiles in the crafting of bowls, cups, and vases in ancient Rome.

 

Each murrina glass is unique and creates one-of-a-kind beads and artifacts that can never be reproduced.  Murrina is an excellent example of why Venetian glass is renowned as the most beautiful, creative, and elegant glass in the world.

 

Today this technique has been found in many contemporary forms and mediums. For example, artist Loren Stump has crafted fine art renditions or art historical and religious scenes into miniature glass slices.

 

 

 

Polymer clay is another medium in which artists have explored this intricate artistic science.

 

There have even been instances where Murrina has been incorporated into food!

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Jean-Marc Fray is proud to carry on the Murrina tradition through selling vintage vases that incorporate this technique. One of our favorites pieces is this gray “incamiciato” and murrina layered vase. Visit our website to see more amazing vintage Murrano glass pieces.