Imagine a room filled with rods of glass that are all different colors. Now, imagine selecting certain rods, putting them together and melting them into a picture. This is difficult for the average person to conceive, much less execute. This is why artists are needed to work with these types of materials and scenarios. They have their own way to look at that world, and it gives them the ability to see a picture or pattern where all others see only chaos.
Making works of art with glass rods has been around for millennia. Greece is one of the first places this type of art was seen. There are examples of bowls made by this ancient culture using glass rods. The rods were twisted into shape and sliced to add to flat discs of glass. They were then heated and placed over a bowl –shaped former. When the glass cooled, a uniquely designed bowl was the result. There are examples all over the Mediterranean area of these types of glass art. The theory is that the Greek sailors brought these items with them on trading missions. The bowls were sold or traded around the region for goods the Greeks wanted.
When they were conquered by Rome, the Romans used colored rods of glass, fused together, to make colorful glasses for drinking their wine. This form of glass art lasted for nearly two centuries. Rome was not the only culture that used this technique to make useful objects and pieces of art. Other cultures used it as well. From Mesopotamia on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean to Greece, this form of art was known throughout the ancient world.
Creating art with glass rods is still practiced today. The current practice is called murrine. It consists of rods of multi-colored glass that is placed into the pattern the artist desires as each layer of glass is applied to the outer rod surface. The rod is drawn out lengthwise to make it narrower. Once thoroughly cooled, the rod is ready to be sliced. The cross-section of the rod provides the glass art that has been designed. Sliced sections of the rod are added to existing items, or placed together, and heated. Using multiple rods of different colors can be used by artists to create a complete picture within a glass rod. When sections are sliced off the rod, the pattern or picture created is seen. This is an incredibly versatile art form.