Reportedly developed some four millenia ago and revived by Italian artisans in the 16th Century, murrine is among those crafts that long predates the much-ballyhooed contemporary craft movement. Yet artist Loren Stump has found a way to breathe new life into the age-old glass design technique, in which canes of glass are fused (in parallel) and sliced to reveal intricately patterned sections. (Picture a Swiss cake roll, or that bakeable play-dough that could be mashed together and sliced to similar effect.)
As with Takayo Kiyota's sushi art, Stump works backward from a two-dimensional image, extruding the picture plane to extrapolate an arrangement of colored rods. Apparently he likes a challenge, considering he tends to to take on extremely detailed historical images like Da Vinci's Virgin on the Rocks (seen above) and Henry VIII. He also does commissioned pieces, if you've got any special requests.
Stump started out as a stained glass artist and eventually made the switch to working with molten varieties and creating his own process and tools—including a mysterious vacuum-controlled apparatus called the Stumpsucker.
If you're looking for something a bit more involved (read: you've got two hours to watch a complete step-by-step breakdown from Stump), check out this video. If not, it's still interesting to hop around and scan the various steps—and then jump to the end for the finish product reveal, of course:
If you couldn't tell, Stump is a human murrine database and has no problem dropping the background of historical artists at any time—which, might I suggest, makes for an interesting soundtrack while making your way through the daily work grind. Corning Museum of Glass has a shorter video if you're just looking to peep the technique:
Aside from his intricate murrine, Stump also creates glass statues, jewelry, paperweights and blown pieces. He hosts the occasional workshop and takes his talent on the road for lectures and demonstrations around the world. Check out more of his work here.
See also: Chen Chen and Kai's Cold Cut Coasters and rugs.