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RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:02pm

Making a fish murrini
I will tie this tutorial in with my Aquarium Bead Tutorial:
And my Kiln Polishing Murrini tutorial:

Making murrini of any kind involves working for long periods of time with really, really, big globs of glass. It is quite advanced, and only gets more difficult as you add glass. Not only that, but in my opinion, the hardest part is stretching it out. It hurts to screw up hours of work during the pull.

The general procedure is to form the cross section of whatever you are trying to make, then to pull it out into as much cane as possible. This cane can be sliced into murrini which all contain the same picture.

Murrini can range from simple patterns formed with a optic mold, to more complex free handed shapes such as fish, to complex shapes requiring several different pulls such as a butterfly.
Even though I am only doing a fish (and a simple one at that), this tutorial is still extremely long, so dial up beware.

If you have never tried pulling large gathers I suggest playing with mixing colors. If you can't pull a gather into an even rod 4-6mm in diameter (the average size of a rod) I would avoid going through all the work of a full sized murrini.

And finally, really importantly, start much smaller than you think you should. Murrini have a habit of growing way faster than you expected. Remember that you are going to be adding twice again as much clear as you already have in color. I spent three hours putting together a clownfish whose gather I ended up having to tack fuse and stick on a shelf in hopes that someday I will have the firepower to pull it.

To start, here is how I arrange my glass
Boro punties are all colored on the end. I have two diameters, thick for pulling, thin for working.
Not much to say here, I will be aiming for a fish similar to a rasbora. I really wanted a red fish so I changed the colors a bit.
And my glass + tonnes of shorts.

To start I will be pulling a cane for the eye. I wasn't thinking whatsoever while doing this and accidentally mixed up the colors.
This is just a pretty simple encased stringer, pulled a bit thicker.

I then cut off the black rod and set it aside

I will be starting the fish with the triangle on its body. The order that I make a fish varies a lot on the pattern, but I generally like to either start with the head or a place near the center.
Note how I arrange the rods so that one is being melted while the other is being preheated.

I will build up this shape into a triangle by adding glass and shaping it:

I then encase the triangle with a lighter red for the body:

While making a murrini, my encasing and adding glass generally involves melting a large gather and swiping it down, then repeat. With tools it is pretty easy to get nearly any shape or pattern.

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:02pm

At this point, I now add glass to only one side of the triangle to bring it into the shape of the fishes body.

I help the shape along a bit with my bbq mashers:

Half way there...
At what point you add the eye is up to you, for this fish I choose to leave an indent for the eye, you can also build it in as you add glass.

Slowly preheat the eye cane you made earlier, if you don't have much you don't want it to crack.
Lay it down slowly and flame cut it off away from the gather.
You could flame cut it off very close to the gather, but I like to leave a cut end so you can see the cross section.
And then bury it in...
Trapping air is something you want to avoid, but when you pull it out into a gather anything but the largest bubbles will be invisible.

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:02pm

I am happy enough with the body to start adding fins.
Same deal, these are swiped on and then shaped after.

Here I am going to mention something that is really hard to avoid when you aren't thinking about it, it is very easy to start narrowing down as you move away from the punty. Make a conscious effort to keep everything the same thickness. The "good" part of the gather is only as large as the thinnest section of your cross section.

Here I am doing the second fin:
For certain types of fish (like a clowfish) you can put a thin layer of a different color over top of the fin.
Here I am just making a bit of an indent on the front for a subtle mouth. It doesn't have to be deep. None is better than too much.

Now we begin the brutal process of encasing the front section.
Keep the glass away from the tail so that you have room to add it. You are mainly just trying to protect the fins so they don't crack off.
The more clear glass around the murrini, the easier they will be to use since distortion is generally worse around the edges. After half an hour of adding clear around a half pound gather you probbably wont care though.

If this is your first murrini, I highly suggest you put it on a boro punty as soon as you can. I have been through this enough to not panic when it hits the floor, but it probbably isn't something you want to do.
I have had a gather land on a piece of paper and set it on fire, I suggest keeping water nearby.

After the inevitable panic where you hope like hell it isn't in your lap, pick it up with mashers and punty onto it with boro.

And then calmly keep encasing with clear...

I have dropped gathers quite a few times (and many more than once) and never had them break, they should be too hot for that.

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:02pm

I now work on the tail just like I worked on the body:

Since the tail is divided down the center, I put a line of clear first:

I then add glass to either side of the clear and shape it into a tail:

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:02pm

And back to encasing...

Again, I would suggest to add as much clear as you can afford/lift. I find that certain colors look different when exposed to the air so at least make sure that you have clear covering all the color.

This picture is really blurry but it is the only one I have before I start adding waste glass:

Once you are happy with it start adding waste glass to the ends:

And then stick a thick boro punty into it:

Carefully melt out the thin punty:
To do this, I focus the flame on the base of the boro punty until it becomes very liquid, then take it out of the flame and blow on it until it hardens. Since boro is so much harder than soft glass you can normally just pull it right out without leaving anything behind.

Waste glass on the other side:


Pulling the gather is where you have to be careful. I like to do it in two stages, the first pull stretches it out to ~2", and the final pull brings it out to several feet. I believe my most important tip to getting an even pull is to heat the gather way hotter than you need it, then let it cool outside the flame and even up in temperature. If you pull it right when you take it out of the flame it will be extremely uneven (aka junk), waiting 10-30 seconds for it to even out and then pulling slowly while blowing on the thinnest parts will give good results.

First pull:

The punties are boro and aren't going to melt, if done properly, the boro punties should be inside the waste glass and reinforcing it, so that isn't going to go anywhere. Don't be afraid to heat the punties. You want completely even heat across all the soft glass. The waste glass should be part of the pull as well.

I don't have any pictures of the pull, but take the gather way hotter than you want it, let it cool a bit outside the flame and then stretch it. Try to keep the punty with the biggest glob still on it above so that the heat rises to warm it. Just something that seems really 'duh' after the fact, don't let the pull get near your shirt...

You may need a helper for the pull as well.

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-18 7:03pm

I finally drop the pull into a long line of fiber bed and cut it up:

I personally find that the cane is easier to cut up if it has not been annealed. Feel free to bring the pieces into the kiln after you cut it, but things can get really hectic if you do.
The ends didn't get enough heat/I ran out of hand span.

Cutting cane into slices takes a lot of practice. All I can suggest is make sure the wheels are parallel to the cane and cut firmly and quickly. I catch the pieces in some fiber bed:

Slices that are too thick can be cut in half very reliably like so:
It is possible to get slices as thin as half a millimeter with luck.

I have also heard of cutting murrini underwater. I have tried it and didn't notice a huge difference.

And thats that.

suzanne 2007-08-18 10:22pm


You make it look so easy! Thank you for taking the time and efford to put this wonderfull tutorial together, I will definetly give it a try one day!


acmegirl 2007-08-18 11:19pm

You deserve every cent you make for creating these....they're beautiful.
Thanks for the tutorial, it's great to see how they're made. I will, however, be counting on you to make my glass slices....:-D

glassattack 2007-08-19 4:57am

=D>thanks ryan,
that is a great tut. but woking on a hh i agree with beth, when i need more murrini you can bet, i will get some from you. mike=D>=D>=D>

killerbeedz1 2007-08-20 2:31pm

Thanks for taking the time and writing a terrific tutorial. I admire your murrini making skills!

tgslampwork 2007-08-20 2:59pm

I'll echo what's been said. Great tutorial, glad to see how you'll still be doing them for me!

lavendar420 2007-08-20 5:26pm

wow, nice tutorial! i took a class from a japanese bead maker this summer & we make murrini out of satake & holy crap, i have never kept that much glass spinning in my life! i thought my arms would fall off!

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-23 9:03pm

I love the Japanese murrini , I am trying to get their flower murrini to work but moretti opaques aren't dense enough.

Cosmic_Charms 2007-08-25 5:33pm

Is this our wonderful Ryan from Calgary?
Ryan, thanks for the tut, I see you put in lots of effort into this.

smiltroy 2007-08-26 1:04am

hi, i would love to see a tutorial on that clown fish, that is just wonderfull :D
nice work, what is your website where i can buy those little pieces of magic

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-26 2:37pm

So far I have only been selling via the Garage Sale and PM's, but I will probbably set up an Etsy store soon.

chayes 2007-08-26 4:27pm

verry cool seeing someone else doing a milli.

Corey 2007-08-27 12:01pm

Is that a fancy tail goldfish you made? B/c I've been looking for one or how about koi!

RyanTheNumberImp 2007-08-27 7:10pm

That one was a rasbora with different colors, The process is pretty similar for all fish, you just change the pattern.

Heather/Ericaceae 2007-08-29 1:03pm

Great tutorial!

WestCoast 2007-08-31 4:56pm

Hi Ryan....I got my murrini fish, star fish and butterflies today and I love them!!!! Thanks for the fast shipping....also thanks for the extras if it only cools down enough for me to play with them.

UndertheSun 2007-09-08 7:22pm


Karen Hardy 2007-09-09 8:59am


lampyMummy 2007-10-17 2:47am

Far out. You make it look so do-able!! I am totally in love with your fishies. Want want want.... did you get that ebay store set up? I would love to get my hands on some.
I have saved the tute till i actually know what i am doing, but i appreciate the time and effort you took in creating it SO MUCH. It is a very kind and generous thing to do. Thankyou.

Retta 2007-10-18 4:45pm

It was amazing watching you do it, way out of my league...

TheZedWord0920 2007-10-23 10:41pm

I will never have the patience or skill to ever do that, but it was a very good read.

simvet02 2008-05-26 5:38am

Wow, you make it looks so easy. I think I would rather just buy them from you. Where do I go to do that?

ziggys 2008-05-26 5:42pm

I don't think it looks easy. I think it looks hard. The size must be really difficult to handle, and the amount of time and patience, incredible. Taking breaks would be a must for me.

I didn't understand what you did with the Murrini that was too big to pull? How did you tack fuse it and what will you need to do in order to get it ready, when you can pull it?

I don't know if it would work with something this big but I saw a tutorial on U-tube for basic optic mold star type murrini, where the girl grabbed one end with her shoes, standing to pull it out.

Thank you for doing this!

KTO 2008-05-26 7:59pm

can't wait to go to the torch and play! Thanks a bunch.

light beam 2008-11-05 11:29am


i wanna say here one thing....

its is advisable to prefer spot welds instead of butt welds

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