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On the Road: Glassblowing

Co-owners Jeremy Popelka and Stephanie Trenchard demonstrate the murrine technique of glassblowing at Popelka Trenchard Glass in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

This technique is called murrine. It comes from Murano, which is an island off of Venice where this technique originated. The process is a long and tedious one. You start making canes of glass, which is color encased within color, stretch it into long rods, then clip them up into cross-sections. So each one of these was a long rod. And then the cross-sections get fused together into a bubble, which then is encased in clear glass and blown out. Once the glass is blown out a bit, we’re going to do one more dip in the furnace after it cools down a little bit so that we can have enough glass to finish what’s going to be a large platter composed of the murrini themselves. Now we start with the shaping point, and we’re going to use a wood block again to actually shape the glass up. These are made out of hard wood and kept wet so that they resist the molten glass and we can shape it up into a round form. At this point, I’m going to have Stephanie help me, and she’s going to actually turn the pipe while I apply the puntee into the middle of the bubble so that we can break it off and open it up. We use a jack to gently guide that glass open and keeping the pipe turning the whole time. And then when it finally opens up into its final flat piece, we’re going to quickly give it a quick shape-up and then I’m going to hand the piece to my wife Stephanie while she’s going to put some water on the connection so it breaks off nice and evenly. Then we get it into a kiln safe and sound.