Vortex Marbles

Kevin O'Grady is the originator and innovator of the Vortex technique in borosilicate glass marbles. He has taught and demonstrated the technique in classes and public forums for almost two decades. The Vortex is now a design standard in borosilicate marbles. Kevin's work can be identified by his exclusive signature murrine cane found on each marble he makes. All of his work is signed and dated in this way since 1998.

Kevin remembers: I started making marbles in 1993. In the winter of '93 Lewis Wilson and I were in Quartzsite, Arizona attending a rock and mineral show where we met Mark Capel and his father Jerry. Mark, his father, and Lewis were "old school" boro workers making "carnival" glass objects. Lewis had just started to make his bead making videos and was very interested in teaching lampworking. I had already set up a successful business of making glass bracelets. This is how we struck up a relationship with Mark and his father. In the evenings, after the shows, we spent time playing on the torch where Mark showed us how he was making marbles. To my knowledge, Mark was the first to make lamp worked borosilicate marbles, an idea which he shared with Lewis and me on those crazy nights in Quartzsite. I was fascinated by what Mark had showed me and I was hooked on the challenge of making marbles. That year I experimented and made hundreds of different kind of marbles. I made everything from pinwheel designs to dichroic galaxies, to ribbon twists and more. In the early 90's I attempted to do a face cane marble. That first, rather crude, face cane is now part of the Corning Museums' collection. In 1993, inspired by the Hulet sisters face cane marbles, I attempted to achieve the same thing in borosilicate and struggled with success. While trying to put the cane into the marble without distortion, I kept pulling the cane to the back of the marble to straighten it out, what I discovered was the early version of the Vortex. Over the years I have perfected, taught, and demonstrated the Vortex technique which now has become a borosilicate standard.

I learned to love working glass while employed by Ann Miller Wearable Glass in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the late 80's. It was with her initial bracelet making instruction that I found my passion. I soon left her company to explore all the ideas in my head. I have since built my business and reputation on my unique glass bracelets. But those early days in dusty Quartzsite, making marbles with Mark and Lewis under that moonlit desert sky have always haunted me and I have continued to chase my marble dreams.