Dei Rossi Main Page
Mario & Antonio Dei Rossi Their Technique
A Visit to the Dei Rossis

There are two Cold phases and a Hot phase in the creation of a Murrina

INITIAL COLD WORK. The photo on the right shows Mario preparing a Van Gogh self Portrait. The image of Van Gogh is on the desk to his left; and the same image is in the box facing him. He is placing flat thin glass rods (1/16 - 1/8” wide and 2.5 - 3” long) against the image of Van Gogh in the box. He matches the glass rod colors with the colors in the image. This results in a cold piece similar to the “cold cylinder” of Antonio’s Rooster, top right corner of this page. It takes, an average of one month to complete the cold work on a piece. A complex piece like the Tempest may take six months.

Hot Work. The photo on the left shows Antonio and Mario in the furnace. The “cold cylinder” is heated according to a preset schedule with different temperatures at the different stages of the process. The softened glass cylinder is then pulled as a thick Rod. The heating and the pulling of the Rod are the most delicate stages of the creation of a Murrina (read A Visit to the Dei Rossis below). The rod is annealed, to be readied for the last phase of the process.

FINAL COLD WORK. The thick Rod is cut in cross sections as seen in the images on the facing page. The cross sectioned pieces vary in diameter and quality of the figure, depending on whether the Murrina was cut from the central part or from the ends of the thick Rod. The less perfect sections are discarded.


The “cold” stages of a Murrina

    The murrina of Antonio’s Rooster on the left was made from the Cold Worked cylinder on the right. Bundles of thin glass rods are held together by metal wires (the ends of which is seen at the10:00 position). The resulting cylinder is 3-4” in diameter and 2-3” high. In every piece, a 3/16” signature rod is placed among the thin rods. That of Antonio’s, ADR, is seen at the 4:00 position in the Rooster Murrina (top left). Mario’s signature, MdR, is obvious in the Caravaggio Murrina.
    The thick Rods that result from heating then pulling the “cold cylinder” are shown below. The sectioned Murrini are Antonio’s Butterfly, Parrot and Peacock Head. Most of the murrini are 5/8-1” in diameter and 1/16’ thick. The measurements of the few larger ones are indicated within the Catalogue (e.g. Parisienne Japonaise)
    The image of the Peacock Heads shows the variability of the Murrini as they are cut from different parts of the Rod.

Plexiglas Stands

3” diameter, 4 - 5.5” high

A Visit to the Dei Rossis

In the Spring of 2003 we visited the Dei Rossis in their home in Burano, and had the privilege to see the two studios where Mario and Antonio do the Cold Work for the Murrini. Antonio’s Orchid was ready as a “cold cylinder” of bundled thin rods on the surface of which the Cattleya is seen in a pattern similar to mosaic.

Two days later, we met them in a Murano Furnace and experienced a thrilling couple of hours, in which the cylinder housing the Orchid was transformed into a thick Rod of fused glass. During the process, father and son were meticulously coordinating their movements around the furnace in what we likened to the combined elegance and risk of the acrobats in a Cirque du Soleil duet. Our fear was related to mishaps that can happen along the elaborate “hot process”: the risk of over fusing the image (resulting in its distortion), of breaking the glass during one of its frequent trips in and out of the oven, or the breakage risk in the annealing phase. It happened to Antonio’s Lion, and that is why few good pieces are available of this superb Murrina.

All went seamlessly that Saturday, and the resulting Cattleya Orchid is beautiful. We left Murano that day even more amazed by these miniature masterpieces than we first saw them at the time that Cesare Toffolo offered us the first Dei Rossi Murrina few years earlier.

                                                                                                            Sami Harawi & Charlie Reinhardt, July 2003