The humble marble has been around for millennia: smooth spheres of stone or clay or steel or glass, in the pockets and toy boxes of children around the world. It's a rare family household that doesn't have any marbles, whether they're cat's eyes and stardusts, Chinese checkers pieces or the plastic balls from Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Many children grow up and leave their marble days behind them, but for some, the thrill of collection remains -- even if it's not in quite the same manner as winning your foe's favourite bonker. Instead, glass artists have turned their craft into producing gorgeous orbs using such techniques as fuming, flameworking, implosion, millefiori, and caneworking.
Some are simple and elegant, others more elaborate wells of swirling colour. All are fascinating: because the spherical shape produces a lensing effect, turning an art glass marble around in your hand is an exercise in discovery as the shape of the object itself magnifies various parts of the wonders within.
If you're curious about how marbles are made -- both in factories and by hand -- check out the video here (you can skip to 1:48 to see an artist producing caneworked marbles, but the factory part at the beginning is pretty interesting too), then hit the gallery below to check out what some of these talented artists are capable of producing.