uniquely detailed decorations are largely the result of our use of
traditional cane techniques. These labor-intensive techniques are
difficult to master, but result in patterns and decorations that are
beautiful and sometimes mind-boggling as to how they were made. These
techniques have traditionally been used to make paperweights, and
marbles, but have also been used in a variety of glass objects for
over 2000 years.
cane work involves building up layers of glass and stretching the
mass out, resulting in a cane, which, when cut, reveals the miniaturized
pattern of the original larger mass. We make cane which is meant to
be viewed as a cross-section, these are called "murrinis",
and we also make cane that is meant to be viewed from the side, which
results in a striped or twist or braid pattern. The twisted lines
that resemble braids are called "latticinio." We originally
thought this translated as "lattice", but have since been
corrected. The word is derived from "latte" to mean "milk-white"
referring to the white colored stripes.
time involved in making a single cane can range from ten minutes to
close to an hour. Because some canes are made of other canes, the
process can actually take place over many days. Each day one or more
components of the final cane are made, and eventually they are put
together to result in what is called a complex cane. Sometimes these
resemble flowers, and are called "millefiore," which translates
to " a thousand flowers." All these terms are from Venice,
Italy, where many of the techniques were perfected in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries.
build up a cane, we work from the center out, adding succeeding layers
of colors or other pieces of already made cane. Sometimes the piece
will be put in a mold to give it a star-shaped pattern before the
next layer is added. There are many different ways of adding colors
for various effects. After the mass is built up anywhere from the
size of a thumb to the size of a coffee can, it is heated through
completely to about 1600 degrees Fahrenheit and then stretched all
at once to a length of 3 to 30 feet depending on how big it started
out. To make twisted canes, we each twist in opposite directions as
the cane is being pulled. When the cane is cool, it is cut to length
(button size for murrinis, and 1"-5" for latticinio.)
use these pieces of cane in our work, we then reheat them again to
about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit where they will fuse together and can
be shaped and blown.