by Inigo del Castillo in New Art on Tuesday 24 June 2014

Artist Loren Stump has been manipulating glass to form highly-detailed works of art for the past 40 years. One of his most celebrated works involves murine, ‘loaves’ of glass that when sliced, reveals portraits and biblical narratives that will both amaze and boggle your mind. In this exclusive interview with Stump, he talks about his lengthy career as a glassworker and as a professor, as well as how he makes these beautiful glass pieces.  [read our original post about him here]

How long have you been working with glass?
First experience with glass at 14. Since that, it’s been 44 years.

How’d you get started in the craft?
Stained glass. From hobby to wholesale. Wholesale to storefront. Storefront to custom. And then lampworking from 1993 to present. Just fell into it all.

Can you tell us more about how you manage to create these loaves of glass called murrine?
Breaking down elaborate pictures or ideas into detailed components. The components are built up from strokes of molten glass (as with painting), to create eyes, noses and mouths. Then these components are heated and stretched to a smaller size. The components are then cut to shorter pieces and assembled hot with a torch to create an image. An elaborate image may contain hundreds of components and be assembled and pulled and reassembled many times.

What’s the most difficult part of making them, and how long does it take you to finish a loaf?
Since glass rods come in a limited color palette. Most of the colors (especially flesh tones) must be hand mixed in the torch. Also getting the shadows and highlights correct for the light source on many components is difficult. Creating smooth transitions a dark color to a light color (as in a shaded face) is quite difficult.

As long as it takes. Depending on the image there are varying numbers of components. One face may involve 10 to 20 parts where as a scene may have multiple people and involve hundreds of components. On average it takes me 1/2 hour for a medium difficulty component, 2 hours for a more difficult one.

Aside from being a master glassblower and stained glass artist, you’re also a teacher. What do you hope to impart to your students before it’s all said and done? Have they too, mastered creating murrine?
Quality! We are trying to create something to be proud of, no matter how long it takes. True quality and craftsmanship is something that is lacking in this fast paced, cookie cutter, profit margin world of ours. Art these days is more about convincing people that the emperor’s new clothes are beautiful (in fact he’s naked.)

Successful students? Hopefully all.