|Visting Murano is a part of our job. But it is also our passion. We have just returned from yet another trip and cannot wait to share our impressions with you.|
Murano is a small island only 2 miles away from Venice. Little water buses, or vaporettos as they are known in Venice, transport you to Murano from Venice in about 10 minutes, and when you get off, you feel like you just returned to the Venice of centuries past. Floating peacefully on the water, with colorful historic houses and palazzos lining its canals, Murano presents a much calmer, and more real alternative to the touristic hustle and bustle of nearby Venice. People go about their business, the canals are full with boats transporting goods, the children are walking home from school chatting and laughing, and history and beauty are surrounding all of this. Just by observing the everyday life on this historic island you feel like you are thrown into a different day and age, more carefree and more simple.
But Murano is much more than a curious tourist destination. For over 700 years Murano has been the place where the magic of glass is created from water, sand, and some minerals in the simple furnaces heated up to 1700 degrees Celsius or 3090 degrees Fahrenheit. But what makes this more than a chemical process is the talent and skill of the masters who breath life into the glass mixture and shape it to become the amazing pieces of art that are famous world-wide. The process of Murano glass-making has remained virtually unchanged since the middle ages. Today, walking around the island of Murano, we see the little factories everywhere, often employing only a few people, members of the same family. In a typical glass-making family, many of which have been doing this work for generations, the business roles are traditional as well: the father and sons work the glass, the mother and the sisters assist in the process, pack ready items for sale in Venice or shipping outside, and work with the clients.
Looking at the artisans work their magic moving gracefully between the furnace and the special bench used for shaping the glass, manipulating simple age-old instruments, talking quietly to each other, it seems that this process is invariable like the change of seasons – that it’ll always be here and cannot be stopped. However, this impression is far from reality. With the spread of globalization the artistry of Murano Glass is in danger. Between the inflow of cheap counterfeit glass from the East, the rising costs of raw materials, the economic woes in the West, and the difficult working conditions, including standing up all day in the heat of the furnaces, the young people even from the old glass-making families increasingly flock to the easier and more profitable jobs on “terra ferma”, as Venetians call the main land. Many factories and workshops have closed in recent years unable to compete with China and to find enough clients. And with each closing factory goes the mastery and the artistic touch of that particular glassmaker, which cannot be easily picked up by anyone else, and the Art of Murano Glass suffers from each loss.