Tag Archives: Murano glass fashion

Fulvio Bianconi’s Vision for Contemporary Murano Glass Art

Murano Glass Art Murano Glass Art Figurine
If you find yourself viewing masterful glass works and feel the urge to smile, then odds are you are in the presence of a Fulvio Bianconi design. Famous for producing glass art that celebrates individuality, sensuality, and the light-hearted side of life, Bianconi pieces are still very popular today due to their lively colors, dynamic shapes, and the enduring popularity of his pezzato style.

An artistic prodigy, Bianconi began apprenticing at Murano Glass furnaces as young as sixteen. He later used his amusing style and undeniable talent to consult on and produce cartoons for the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture, until the end of World War II. However, it wasn’t long before the island of Murano and the glass furnaces of his youth called on him, and in 1947 the prominent Murano Glass master Paolo Venini hired him as a designer for a series of perfume glass bottles. The financial independence granted to him by his work as a graphic designer  allowed him to dedicate an ample amount of time to freelance work for Venini, which yielded works characteristic of his free spirited and playful style. This did not sit well with the glass artisans at Murano initially. The trademark of a gifted glass artisan in Murano at the time was the ability to perfectly recreate a style or design, and their celebration of flawless repetition could not have been farther from Bianconi’s perception of what constituted mastery, beauty and technique. Bianconi is credited as saying, “…the artistic glass has to be unique, if it is repeated it loses its charm…” Continue reading


Glasstress in Venice: Contemporary Art in Murano Glass

Venice Biennale is always a grand event in the world of art, which ambitiously attempts to represent and explore the international contemporary art scene. This years’ Biennale is the 54th one and features artworks spanning painting, photography, film, and modern art installations made of paper, steel, glass, wax and even vapor, presented by 89 countries. Multiple concurrently running shows and exhibitions make up the Biennale and attract hordes of artists, journalists, celebrities and tourists. One of the most interesting exhibitions in this year’s Venice Biennale is Glasstress, an attempt to explore modern art themes in Murano glass. Glasstress is the result of the joint efforts of some of the best contemporary artists who came up with the ideas for sculptures and installations and Adriano Berengo’s Murano glass factory, which implemented them in Murano glass.

Glasstress runs from June 4 to November 27, 2011 and is held at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti and the Berengo Centre of Contemporary Art and Glass in Venice, Italy.

After Venice Biennale Glasstress will present travelling Murano Glass exhibitions around the world, including one in New York City.

To get your own piece of artistic Murano Glass, please see our wide selection of authentic Murano Glass at www.GlassOfVenice.com

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Glass Jewelry: replacement for the ‘real stuff’ or a value in itself?

Time changes everything, including our perceptions of what is valuable. Modern jewelry made of glass is considered ‘costume’ jewelry, or a replacement of the ‘real thing’ – made of precious stones. But that was not always the case. When Egyptians buried their adored king Tutankhamun in 1323 BC, they buried him with two famous necklaces: “necklace of the sun”, created from glass beads mixed with those made from gold and carnelian, and the ‘vulture collar’, made of solid gold inlaid with pieces of multicolored glass.

History of glass jewelry is the history of glass making itself, since the early glass was used almost exclusively as body ornament. Although scientists cannot agree if the oldest glass beads were made in Egypt or Mesopotamia, the oldest beads discovered by archeologists were found in Egypt and date to 12,000BC. They were simple and fairly crude beads made of clay with glass glaze.

Ancient Egyptians valued glass and glass jewelry enough to decorate their pharaohs with it. There is no doubt that pharaohs could afford ‘the real thing’, but there is a dispute if Egyptians used glass jewelry because they valued it so highly, or because they wanted to cheat grave robbers. Considering how difficult glass making was at that time and how rare was the knowledge of glass making, it is not difficult to believe that the glass jewelry was considered to be in the same league as that made from precious stones.

Another reason to believe the value ancient Egyptians afforded to glass jewelry is the quality of the workmanship and artistry invested in making pieces that survived to this day. The necklaces in Tutankhamen’s tomb were made of solid gold and glass was placed instead of precious stones not because of their lack, but because of intrinsic value they afforded to glass in its own right.
Since both Egyptians and Phoenicians used glass beads for trade, they were soon found all over the world, and with them the knowledge of their manufacture. Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Bohemian, Chinese and Indian glass makers started producing high quality glass beads and other objects.

But, it was not until 14th century that murano glass bead-making reached its zenith in Murano, Italy. Murano glass artisans perfected the lampworking technique – glass rod heated with an oil lamp with a glass chimney. Molten glass was formed by blowing or shaping it with different tools and hand movements. Murano glass makers came up with a number of different bead making techniques that are today used all over the world. One of the most famous – millefiori, or thousand flowers – is today almost the synonym with murano glass bead making.

It is interesting that glass beads play important role in many cultures all over the world – from Africa to Borneo in Malaysia, but the glass beads for the tribal jewelry always had to be imported. Many Dayak ladies in Borneo are decorated with bead necklaces that have been in their family for generations, but the ladies would be very surprised to find out that the beads for them came very probably from Murano. And they are not the only ones: artisans all over the world importing famous murano glass beads and create unique glass jewelry according to their own artistic preferences and ideals. The world is becoming a very small place indeed.


Glass Jewelry – the World of Murano Glass Beads

Glass jewelry has been around for thousands of years, to enhance necks, fingers, ears and clothes of ladies and gentlemen, rich and poor, all over the world. They are adorning ladies of Masai in Africa, of Dayak in Borneo or of Hopi in the New World. Like drops of light, colorful beads are woven, strung, melted or imbedded, to form thousands of shapes and forms, often kept in the same family or tribe for hundreds of years.

Modest beginning

It all starts with a bag of sand. It is truly fascinating how human ingenuity could transform what is basically ordinary silica sand, with some additional ingredients and a lot of fire, into such a magical medium as glass. It is even more fascinating to see the result of that same ingenuity, imagination and vision, which transformed glass into a number of different forms, using techniques invented through history. And to make the story even more fascinating, most of the glass jewelry making techniques were invented on a small island of Murano, near Venice in Italy. Once invented, the techniques remained more or less the same through centuries.

There are several major types of beads that are used all over the world to make glass jewelry.

Seed bead or conterie

Seed beads are made from hollow thin glass tubes that are cut very fine and then re-fired to smooth the edges and add color. They are used to make intricate glass jewelry and festive clothes, especially wedding gowns. Seed beads have been used for centuries all over the world, and in many different parts of the world they became a part of native culture and art expression. Contemporary artists and artisans are also using seed beads to create jewelry which is limited in shape and form only by the artists’ imagination. In the past, making bead jewelry in Murano was the job of women, while all other aspects of murano glass making were almost exclusively the domain of men.

Rosetta or Chevron beads

Rosetta beads were invented in Murano in 14th century. They are made similarly to seed beads, from hollow glass canes. The canes were formed from six layers of glass of distinctive colors: white, blue, white, brick red, white and blue again. Once cut, the canes were made into beads with patterns of 5 concentric circles with twelve points.

Millefiori beads

Millefiori beads are made by melting together canes of different colors, which were cut once cold, to produce intricate patterns, which resemble lace. They are one of the most famous products of murano glass and are used in many spectacular ways to make extremely beautiful glass jewelry and works of art.

Blown Beads

Invention of lampwork technique, which allowed glass makers to heat glass with an oil lamp and shape it with different tools while hot, offered bead makers a whole new field of creativity. They found out that they could melt already produced canes and then blow the glass, creating very intricate shapes, which were then cut into beads. This method is called Filigrana, and is now copied all over the world. Some contemporary artists are using this ancient murano glass technique to produce spectacular, but not always wearable, glass jewelry. It is not easy to hang around the neck a necklace made of fragile large sky blue blown beads, like those made by well known glass artist Giorgio Vigna, shown recently at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Each blown bead has to be made by hand and each is a piece of art in itself, even before artists add their own imagination to their placement. Some contemporary glass artists blow their own beads, but many import them from Murano.

Lampwork or Perle a Lume Beads

Lampwork is also used to make wound beads, made by melting glass over a mandrel (a core). Originally, the Murano beads were wound over a ferrous mandrel called “fango”. Since this word means mud in Italian, it is said that the mud was taken from the Venice lagoon, adding to the mystery of these beautiful beads.

Since the Moretti Murano family started using copper mandrel in 1920s, this method became standard in making wound beads, and it also allowed for some interesting forms. The mandrel was cut off just below the bead and the bead was dunked in nitric acid. The acid dissolved the copper inside the bead and etched the interior surface in interesting patterns. Today, most murano glass bead makers use stainless steel or silver, for more delicate beads.

At GlassOfVenice.com, We feel that the handmade colorful and precious murano glass objects allow us to go back in time and capture the fragile beauty of Venice, and we are happy to share this opportunity with our customers worldwide.

Please see our wide selection of authentic murano glass at www.GlassOfVenice.com

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Murano glass vases by Venini for Versace

Murano glass is about to get even more famous and fashionable as it gets a boost from the legendary Versace brand. In an attempt to add a twist to their Versace Casa collection of home furnishings and decor and revive Gianni Versace’s heritage, the famous design house teamed up with the best-in-class Murano glassmaking firm Venini to produce an exclusive collection of hand-blown contemporary glass vases. The result of this collaboration by two biggest names in exclusive fashion is eagerly awaited since 2004 when they last worked together on a line of Murano glass vases.

Speaking at the presentation of the new Versace Casa collection in Milan on April 14th, Donatella Versace said: “I’m so proud because, with this new collaboration, we re-created some historical vases that Gianni had designed, obviously re-edited and streamlined. The first Venini collaboration ran from 1997 to 2004”.

The vases which will include new pieces as well as the legendary Heritage Collection designs from the 1990’s, will be numbered and initialed and will feature rich colors, geometrical patterns and bold designs. They will be available this Fall at all Versace boutiques, selected Venini stores, and other exclusive retailers throughout the world.


New Murano glass jewelry on GlassOfVenice.com

We have just received from Venice new exquisite Murano glass earrings and necklaces that you can now purchase in our GlassOfVenice virtual store. These beautiful Venetian glass creations are classic and elegant with gorgeous colors and unique designs. They are perfect to wear with your favorite sweaters in the winter and with your light summer dresses in warmer times. These earrings and necklaces also make great Valentine’s Day gifts. Get them while they last!

Millefiori Fantasy Earrings
Millefiori Fantasy Earrings

Murano Glass Magnifica Necklace – Multicolor
Murano Glass Magnifica Necklace - Multicolor

Murano Glass Carnivale di Venezia Necklace – Emerald
Murano Glass Carnivale di Venezia Necklace - Emerald

Murano Glass Laguna Necklace
Murano Glass Laguna Necklace


A New Word in Murano Glass Art – Real Murano Glass Shoes!

In our long careers in Murano glass and many trips to Venice we have seen lots of Murano glass items from smaller rings and pendants all the way to large sculptures, chandeliers, mirrors, bathroom sinks, and even Christmas tree. But one thing we have never seen or even imagined in Murano glass is shoes.

Amazingly enough, we recently learned, now one can find and even buy and wear real Murano glass shoes! And if you like that idea, you do not even need to travel to Italy. Master shoemaker Pasquale Fabrizio who owns famous Pasquale Shoe Repair in Los Angeles that serves lots of celebrities and Hollywood stars has just created a line of Murano glass shoes fit for a real-life princess. These amazing shoes were introduced to the world (or rather to a selected few celebrities) at a champagne reception on January 29, 2010 on the rooftop patio of Pasquale Fabrizio’s shoe studio called “Q by Pasquale”. This proves that there really is no limit to Murano glass art and that, far from being a thing of the past, it holds a dinstinctive fashionable place in modern life.
Murano Glass Shoe