Husband/wife team Ralph Mossman and Mary Mullaney create their intricate “Murrini Sphere” ornaments with ornate murrini patterns embedded in blown-glass spheres. They provided us with some details about their inspiration and technique.
What is your studio like?
MM: Our current studio is a 2,000-square-foot building adjacent to our house.
RM: It looks like a house on the outside because we are in a residential neighborhood. There’s a really good view of the Grand Tetons from our shop. Mary has a room upstairs for drawing her high-end work. (She does hand-carved cameo-style vessels.) There’s also a photography room where we photograph our glass. In the hot shop, along one wall, we have cane, color samples, and color bars, so it’s really colorful.
MM: We have a large, open work space in the hot shop because the cane takes so much room. We have really big tables for working with the cane. There’s also a large office/showroom that we open up once a year to the town at Christmas.
What do you keep in your studio for inspiration?
MM: We have a lot of posters of various artists, and our bathroom has a wall with postcards of art and photos of artwork. We have a sculpture called “Bad Dog” by our friend, Ricky Bernstein. We also keep books and magazines handy for when we’re looking for ideas.
Where do you get your best ideas?
MM: A lot of inspiration for the murrinis comes from life experience. Ralph just has a really playful attitude, and he comes up with ideas. But, he also has a very technical side. Murrinis are these very intricate things, so he has to be able to visualize how they’re going to work. It’s almost mathematical.
RM: Some of it comes from looking at the world around me. A lot of things would be tough to make as murrinis, but I look at other things and say, “Hey, that would make a good murrini!”
MM: I recently bought a really thick book of photographs of butterflies of the world, and there are some really unusual combinations of color. So, if I’m lost for color combinations, I sometimes get inspiration from that, and sometimes that goes into the murrinis.