I became aware of the existence of a type of Italian decorative cane called “Zanfirico” the first time I visited Murano back in the early 1990’s. It is stored in the same warehouse at Effetre with the murrini cane and was a titillating eye candy experience.
Zanfirico is a hand pulled cane style that requires a lot of skill to produce and is very popular with the traditional glass blowers on Murano, who do beautiful blown glass pieces with ribbons of fine twisting colors in stunning vases, bowls and other glass objects.
Frantz Art Glass has had Zanfirico cane available for many years, but it was marketed as “Marble Stock” in our catalog and on our website. The colors of Zanfirico that Frantz had in the past was not as delightful as the new batch that is now available and there is a better selection of cane sizes to pick from with this new shipment.
Since there are all these new styles and colors of Zanfirico, I decided to see what I could do using this cane style to make beads. I had a lot of fun seeing how I could make fancy 2 mm stringers out of 15 to 20 mm thick pieces that were 2 – 2 ½ inch long of zanfirico cane. I heat these short thick pieces of zanfirico cane in my annealing kiln at 1000F and then pick them up out of the kiln with a glass punty that is heated at the pick-up end to sticky hot. I then transfer the zanfirico chunk to the torch flame and start warming it and add a glass punty to the other end. When the zanfirico chunk starts to get soft, I start to introduce more twists into the cane and when it is ready to pull out, I continue to add more twists to make them compact enough to look good in a bead. This treatment takes a little practice, but is well worth it.
While I was experimenting with the zanfirico cane, I discovered that some of the cane patterns actually looked better when I applied a 5 to 6 mm cane directly to a thin bead cylinder on a mandrel and heated and twisted the cane down as I melted it around the bead. This technique allowed me to use the cane in its’ full size which made the cane pattern larger and more visible and I really liked the results. Instead of wispy twisted patterns of color, I got beefy twists that were more dramatic.
If you like exotic stringers, I highly recommend trying some of this new shipment of zanfirico cane. It saves you from having to make it from scratch and it allows you to introduce details into your beads that are difficult to produce and very lovely to see.
|Blue spiral zanfirico over base of CiM Creamsicle with Peace and Cornflower dots||Blue spiral zanfirico over base of CiM Rose Quartz with an accent stringer of goldstone.|
|Pink spiral zanfirico stringer over bead made from Intense Blue.||Bead made with 6 mm zanfirico cane with multiple threads of blue and yellow that was warped around the mandrel and tips of Intense Blue were added for accents.|
|Blue spiral zanfirico stringer warped around a round bead made with CiM Pumpkin.||Round bead wrapped with 6 mm cane line zanfirico in black and white over a core of CiM Chalcedony.|
|Yellow line zanfirico over core of Intense Blue with dots of CiM Pumpkin and Cornflower, made with a 6 mm cane.||Pink line zanfirico over core of CiM Cornflower, made with a 6 mm cane.|
|Pink spiral zanfirico stringer over CiM Poison Apple.||Goldstone zanfirico with black line over a core of CiM Great Bluedini.|
|White line zanfirico stringer over CiM Tuxedo. When line zanfirico is pulled down to stringer size, the zanfirico can become very wispy.||Small round bead made with a 6 mm rod of blue spiral zanfirico.|