Complex Cane:
2018 murrini for UFS

When I was a kid I was all about unicorns.

Also, stickers. This is not altogether surprising, since I enjoyed both fantasy and surface embellishment from an early age. —When unicorns were all the rage during my teenaged years, I was a bit dismayed at how cute and pinkified they became, and so made up my own fantasy beastie, the rejiquar (which most people mistake for a unicorn anyway) and of course I still like unicorns (and dragons and gryphons and hippocampuses and...) very much, so it's not altogether surprising that the owner of Unicorn Feed and Supply would commission me to make “unicorn horn” ornaments.

bundles of murrini cane, waiting to be cut

It all started when a mutual friend rescued a scrap of ribbon cane while visiting the studio (with yet another friend) from out of town and eventually, when Jen saw this (not to mention the friend's enthusiasm over it—very important!) she asked if I could make Christmas tree ornaments using this motif.

Here's an end-on view.

Sure, sez I, and since you're commissioning these specially for your shop, why don't we make a signature cane for them? What's that, she wanted to know? Well, it's a way for glass artists to sign their work. I'm mostly too lazy to do that for myself, but I've been given a fair number of collectible xmas ornaments over the years, and having a new one each year is a thing. This could become a tradition too, if the customers liked it.

And I could get in lots of murrini and ribbon cane practise...

Here's the chipped slices, ready to be applied...

Complex murrini are so-called because they're made of components, in this case, the initials for the shop, U, F, S and the year, 2018. I made up the year cane (4 components) first, then added the letters around it; then cased the edges in the aqua and blue-violet colour scheme the client had chosen to match the shop's official colours.

Closeup of the ribbon cane. Aren't those colours luscious?

Of course, I hadn't pulled cane like this since I did the GLBG's 10th anniversary bead, and I'm proud to say that I did not misjudge the softness of my gather to the point of having to wind it around a ladder because I ran out of basement: a good thing too, because the horns are significantly bigger, and I wanted if possible to make the cane (potentially) readable with the naked eye[1]

Another closeup of the ribbon cane, with curling ribbons to match!

Well, I was, ahem, just a bit out of practise, but many swears (and 800–1400 deg F chunks of glass dropped on the table, which is beeswax coated steel for a reason) later, I made UFS very first signed annual Christmas tree unicorn horn ornaments.

This is a soft-focus version. Since I was taking a studio photography class at the time, I decided to do some real-world commercial photography, which has quite different parameters than the typical ‘jury shot’ type style I usually employ for the site.

Tomorrow: the completed horns!

[1]It would be for 20 year old me, and still is if I have my specially made ‘beadwork’ Rx glasses on;