Friday, January 7, 2011

Milleforie Revisited ~

When an artist works in glass the
techniques & possibilities are endless!
People always ask me about "stained glass" or label "fused  glass" (kiln-fired) as "stained glass."  I've never done stained glass or really have a desire to do it.  I crack up when people say..."oh, you must have patience to do this..."   PATIENCE? 
 Ahhhh, that would be a big negatory people. 
My Mom's mantra to me as a child was...."patience, child, patience." 
I consider it my good karma to not be drawn to stained glass work.

I appreciate it ~ I just don't want to do it!!
 I originally worked in hot glass which is glass processes in the 2000 F (1093 Celsius) degree range which includes glass blowing & torch work.  Warm glass is in the 1000 to 1700 (537 - 926 Celsius) degree range.  Actually, anything up from room temperature is considered "warm".  Cold working glass includes stained glass & finishing techniques such as grinding, sanding, cutting, etc.  Often pieces are hot or warm worked ~ then cold worked & then fire polished....which typically means putting it back in the kiln & "warming" the little sucker back up to about 1000 degrees to smooth & make the edges shiny. 

OK ~ a little background. 
Since I used to work exclusive in hot glass I'm pretty comfortable around torches & furnaces.  I used to make lots of beads & then as I got into fusing made lots of component parts on the torch for my fusing & glass blowing.  I love to make murrini & do mini roll-ups.  It's like quilting...making all the component parts, re-cutting & combining to make more complex & intricate pieces that give the "wow" factor in your art.

One technique on the torch is to "pull cane" or build "milleforie."  There's ways to do it in fusing.  One technique is the "rod pod." 

Here's a picture of the "rod pod"  mold. 
A mold is a bisque form layered with glass wash to form warm glass.

Here's a side view. 
 It looks like little troughs that you fill with glass & then fuse together into rods & then the rods are cut cross section.  Each little cross section are their own little art piece & these can be built together into larger more complex pieces.

Here's an example of torch worked milleforie.  Many people recognize "milleforie" as an Italian word.  It means "many flowers" & in reality is just a technique for layering glass.  It's not strictly a technique owned by Italian glass workers. 
The Italian's have just popularized it & made it recognizable.

Here's how to do it in the rod pod. 
 I usually cut some lengths of glass ~ rods & stringers in about 6 inch lengths.  This length fits in my rod pod & if I don't like the combination I don't have hundreds of chips to use.

Quick shot of a rod in the center with 1mm stringers around the rod & then a layer of larger 2mm rods.  I tape them in place using this "satin" finish tape.  It disappears during the firing.
(that's worth a post in & of it's self ~ note to self)

Here's the roll up in the rod pod...taped up like a mummy!

Four different colored rods taped together.  After taking this photo I noticed ~ for the first time ~ that one of the rods has a blue center!   Geez.....what a loser I am!
That's important as it adds another dimension to the finished piece. 

Here's a few roll ups in the rod pod fired at 1400 degrees Fahrenheit.  They are
 ...just.... starting ....stick... together ...
but there's still lots of distinction. 
 I was worried that if I tried to cut them apart they would break into

Here they are fired at 1425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Melted together but still good color distinction.

The following are three separate pieces that were created from milleforie.



My Favorite ~ CIRCLES.


  1. That's just oh-so-cool, Tam. I hadn't realized that you could make came that way. I love the circles too!

    xoxo Kim

  2. Making milleforie is one of my goals this year. Thanks for this post.

    ~ Julz

  3. Thanks Kim & Julz for commenting. This is really fun to layer up & fire. It takes awhile to anticipate how the layering & colors will look ~ just like making beads.

    You can use powders too but they really shrink up so you have to over fill the mold ~ it gets messy!

    Thanks again & have a good weekend! Tam

  4. Tam, wonderful post.....another project to try. Thank you. About the 'satin' finish tape, what exactly is that?
    Anna (Australia)

  5. Thanks Anna. It's "Scotch" brand tape on the label it says "Matte Finish" & "Magic Tape." And it really is because it disappears when it's fired. I'll do a little write up & post a picture so you can see what I'm talking about ~ Thanks again for the comment! Tam