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In an American take on Italian artistry, Kentuckian Stephen Rolfe Powell creates glass sculpture using ancient Venetian techniques. His use of murrini, or bead-like pieces of glass, makes his work uniquely colorful and textured. Powell and his team create their own murrini by recycling larger pieces of glass. They then heat and cool the murrini and incorporate the resulting mosaic into handblown vessels. Each of Powell’s sculptures is made of approximately 3,000 murrini and weighs as much as 30 pounds. The large, light-filled centerpieces are otherworldly yet sensual in form and bear cheeky names such as “Winking Tangy Orb,” “Pushy Violet Throb,” and “Sultry Lemon Jitter.” Ripe with personality and culture, each sculpture crosses Southern and Mediterranean influences in one great visual display.

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To see more of Powell’s work, check out Stephen Rolfe Powell: Glassmaker, a book published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2007. The title shows Powell’s process and finished work in 250 full-color photographs and offers insight into his personal story and artistic vision in a slew of essays by fellow artists and educators. Stephen Rolfe Powell: Glassmaker is available online as a hardback coffee table book and an ebook.

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