Tag Archives: Murano glass making

What To See And Do In Venice On A Rainy Day – Exclusive Travel Tips

VVenice Travel Tips For A Rainy Dayenice is so incredibly romantic under the rain. Yet it is also true that it can be more difficult to wander through its streets when bad weather ruins your plans. Rains are frequent in the Fall and Winter,  weather can turn quite cold from time to time, and aqua alta, or flood, can always happen, but the good thing is there are many attractions one can visit when the weather in Venice gets wet. Plus, there is nothing better than a good cup of Italian hot chocolate, or “cioccolata calda” to make bad weather much more bearable.

First of all, it is necessary to pack with rain in mind. When it rains, the streets get crowded by merchants selling knee-high boots and umbrellas, yet it is always best to travel with proper clothes (and enough pairs of shoes to have a dry one on hand). Most moving around in Venice is done by foot, so it is recommended to pack water-resistant clothes that keep you warm and comfortable. A strong umbrella is also a good choice, because it can get quite windy in the Venetian Lagoon during the colder times of the year (you will definitely notice it on board of water bus).

Aqua Alta is what Italians refer to when speaking of high water that floods the Saint Marc’s Square and neighboring alleys. To some visitors it may seem like a true Venetian adventure, but to locals it is a nightmare. If you want to experience this phenomenon and wonder through Saint Marc’s Square, you will find it is impossible to cross it by foot since the water can reach knee level. In these situation the city puts out special wooden runways that rise above the water, allowing people to walk across the piazza and reach the Basilica San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. Most businesses, however, will not be operating as usual since their owners will be busy getting the water out of their shops, trying to avoid the damage caused by it. Continue reading

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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Bullicante

The quality and tradition that characterize Murano’s finest glass furnaces have always been worthy of the highest appreciation. This prestige is due mostly to the glass masters’ hard work and dedication, which are the very core of Murano’s most famous trade. Glassmaking has been passed on from one generation to the next one, with constant innovations and timeless originality. The loyalty and respect with which this trade is treated is possibly the key to Murano’s success. Glass masters all over the island have always worked with endless vitality, and this creative vein is evident in every glass artwork that comes out of any furnace, with improved techniques and bewildering effects.

Always ahead of his time and anticipating any trend, Archimede Seguso was the perfect example of Murano’s best talent. Knowing how to interpret the world around him and always renewing and perfecting his production techniques, Seguso came up with one of the most astounding and marvelous of innovations, the bullicante technique.

Murano Glass Masters symbol - Peacock

The “bullicante” effect is amongst the most famous glass making techniques and it is seen quite often around the island of Murano. If you’ve had the fortune of strolling along the streets of Venice, you would have noticed beautiful glass pieces with small air bubbles trapped in the inside, possibly stopping to wonder how that seemingly impossible effect is achieved. This peculiar effect is obtained by placing a piece of molten glass inside a metallic mold with spikes, very much resembling a pineapple’s texture. These spikes cause small holes on the surface creating a pattern all around the glass piece. After it’s been left to cool down for a few moments, the whole piece is submerged in molten glass again. This second layer completely covers the first one. However, thanks to the thick consistency of glass, the holes previously impressed on the first layer are not covered, thus causing air to be trapped between both layers of glass. This process can be repeated several times, creating a pattern as complicated as the glass master wishes. This technique gives not only a sense of depth to the whole object, but also an incomparable decorative effect, famous for its originality.

Murano Glass Bullicante Vase from GlassOfVenice

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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Filigrana, Reticello, Zanfirico and More

The glass production in Venice represents one of the most important and influencing factors of the city’s economy, and it is no secret that the best glass furnaces reside in Murano. When walking through the streets of Murano, it is almost impossible to name and enumerate all the intricate and complex techniques used in the production of these artworks. And if we were to enter a furnace and listen to the craftsmen talk, we would probably simply hear confusing words such as filigrana, retortoli, reticello, or spirale, without even knowing which technique is which. Every technique, tool, shape and type of glass has its name, quite distinct, and part of the glass masters’ vocabulary since almost a thousand years ago.

The most ancient piece of evidence documenting the existence of glass artworks dates back to the year 982, and thanks to this document, in 1982 the world celebrated a thousand years of Venetian glass artworks. Many other historic documents testify the work of furnaces along the Rio dei Vetrai river in Murano, where one can still find the finest and oldest furnaces in the city. In order to keep the industry’s secrets and glass masters from leaving, the Republic of Venice came up with several acknowledgements and distinctions to those who would create the finest and most creative of glass works. The Republic also protected some of the most important discoveries and innovations of those times, such as the “filigrana a retortoli” and “filigrana a reticello” that became famous around the sixteenth century.
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Murano Glass Making Techniques: Sommerso

Glass making can be one of the most complex and mesmerizing crafts in the world. Since ancient times, glass has always enthralled people with its intricate forms and beautiful translucent colors. To achieve this, glass masters have worked tirelessly to develop and improve various techniques that have been passed from one generation to the other throughout the years.

When thinking of Murano glass, it is highly unlikely that we think of sand, yet this rare material is at the base of all glass production. Glass is firstly a mix of siliceous sand, soda, lime and potassium, which is put to melt inside an oven at a temperature of around 2,700 Fahrenheit. After it has become flexible enough, it is removed with a pipe that will be used to blow the glass out while the glassmaker shapes and models it. The forms and colors given to each piece depend on the tools and chemicals used during its production. The techniques are also important; since they define the way minerals will react when they come in contact with glass and the chromatic effects they will leave on each piece. The first glass works with relevant artistic techniques can be dated back to the Roman period, in which raw materials such as sea shells, ashes and sand were used in its fabrication. Nowadays, the glass masters of the Mediterranean have refined and improved each technique, mixing it with delicate craftsmanship and impeccable Italian style.

Murano Art Glass Angel Fish - Sommerso Swirls

Murano Art Glass Angel Fish – Sommerso Swirls

One of the most common techniques is “Sommerso”, which in Italian literally means “submerged”. This technique is used to create several layers of glass (usually with different contrasting colors) inside a single object, giving the illusion of “immersed” colors that lay on top of each other without mixing. This is done by uniting different layers of glass through heat and repeatedly immersing them in pots of molten colored glass. This technique is quite recognizable: it is characterized by an outer layer of colorless glass and thick layers of colored glass inside it, as if a big drop of color had been captured inside the transparent glass. When one first sees these objects, it seems almost impossible to conceive such beautiful colors being locked so perfectly inside what would seem solid glass, and then undoubtedly one begins to wonder how ever did they manage to achieve such a complex game of shapes and colors right in the middle of a clear glass object.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Barovier Family

Barovier name is synonymous with Murano Glass. Over the centuries various members of Barovier family have been leaders, innovators, and vigorous promoters of Murano Glass art. Barovier & Toso is an Italian glass-making company, one of Murano’s most ancient families in the craft, and yet one whose style transcends time and whose quality has been consistently held in high regard for centuries. Nominated as the world’s longest established family of glass workers, and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating family businesses, for almost a thousand years Barovier’s family business has maintained keen interest in culture, constant innovation and drive for perfection.

The Venetian glass-making tradition – of which the Barovier family has been a frequent leader – is the very core of this family’s unique creations; it is the starting point of the Barovier history. The first known records of Barovier family members working as glass masters on Murano date back to 1324, specifically mentioning Jacobello Barovier and his sons Antonio Barovier and Bartolomeo Barovier. The descendants of Viviano Barovier and Jacobo Barovier who lived and worked on Murano island in the 14th century gave rise to the more famous Barovier family members who became well known during Renaissance. Continue reading

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Murano Glass Inspiration for American Artists

dale chihuly garden glassMurano Island in Venice is world-renown for amazing art glass that has evolved from its humble utilitarian beginnings into an art form over the centuries. Part of the reason is the sheer concentration of glass furnaces on the island and the length of time that the artisans have been experimenting and creating, leading to virtuosity in techniques and styles. One of the most famous and oldest glassworks on Murano is Venini, the family that has given the world generations of talented Murano Glass artists. The surprising part, however, is that in the twentieth century Venini glassworks helped create a new breed of masterful and innovative artists, those that were born outside of Murano and even Italy.

In breaking with Murano’s long-standing tradition of shielding the glassmakers’ world from the outsiders, Venini started serving as a learning site for American artists eager to learn the secrets of Murano Glass masters. Over the years, the Venini glass factories have hosted American-born talents such as Thomas Stearns, Dale Chihuly, and Richard Marquis, all of whom ultimately helped expand Murano’s fame far beyond Italy. These prominent artists have traveled to Murano on the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and were fascinated by the medium of glass and the artistic possibilities it offered.. However, although they share a country of origin and a common passion which expanded the boundaries of glass work, they are as different and unique as the handmade glass pieces they produce. Continue reading

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Exhibition Presents Murano Glass Art by Giampaolo Seguso

It is rare to see the very best of artistic Murano Glass created by prominent Venetian artists outside of Venice, let alone in the United States. For a short time this May and June all lovers and collectors of Murano Glass in the United States can enjoy a wonderful exhibition of Murano Glass Art at Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. The exhibition features 33 beautiful glass art pieces by Giampaolo Seguso, a member of the renowned Seguso dynasty—a family which has been crafting glass on the island of Murano for over 600 years! The legacy of glass work goes back twenty-two generations in the Seguso family, and has garnered them international acclaim.

The pieces on display are each accompanied by a poem by Giampaolo Seguso himself, which reflects of the meaning of existence, nature, and beauty, merging together Seguso’s gifts for visual, as well as verbal arts. It is so rare to capture beauty in one medium, but Seguso ambitiously endeavors to capture it doubly, creating something new and profound. The name of the exhibition, La Ragnatela, is Italian for “spider web,” referring to Filigrana technique of glass-making invented on Murano in the 16th century. This complex technique uses glass canes that are positioned parallel to each other and then melted together so as to create delicate spiral or web-like patterns within the glass. Seguso was so enchanted by the endless artistic possibilities offered by Filigrana technique that he authored the book, La Ragnatela, published in 2001, which is the culmination of his research and personal application of the Murano Filigrana technique. Like all in-demand artists, Giampaolo Seguso and his art have traveled the world, holding exhibitions in Norway, Germany, and Brazil.

La Ragnatela presentation can be visited at the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. This exquisite exhibition opened its doors on April 10th and will continue to wow the collectors and those interested in Murano Glass until June 13, 2014, so make plans to see it soon.

by Kevin Grinberg

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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

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Murano Glass Exhibition in New York Metropolitan Museum

Murano Glass Exhibition in New YorkWhile Murano Glass is ancient and famous art known well beyond the borders of Murano Island, unfortunately it is rare to see a major Murano Glass exhibition outside of Venice, Italy. It is even rarer to see one in a world-class museum, so we are delighted to let you know about the new exhibition opening up in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York dedicated to the art of famous architect and modernizing force in Murano Glass, Carlo Scarpa. Called “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa. The Venini Company, 1932–1947” this exhibition illustrates how Carlo Scarpa led the way in breaking the mold of classic Murano Glass making and bringing out new facets of this ancient art in line with the changing times.

Carlo Scarpa was a talented Venetian architect who became familiar with the medium of glass and skilled at glass-making while working at famous MVM Capellin Glassworks on Murano Island for five years. Scarpa was fascinated with the possibilities that the medium of glass offered to an artist with its fluid nature, transparency and color. Having learned the intricacies of glass-blowing, Scarpa was invited to work at one of the most famous glass companies on Murano at the time, Venini, in the role of artistic consultant. Scarpa’s talent quickly became obvious in this job ,where he promoted innovative techniques that built on the solid foundation of ancient art but took it to new levels, achieving the colors, shapes and designs beyond anything created by Murano masters before. Venini Glassworks enjoyed great success with Scarpa’s innovations, showcasing his works at prestigious international exhibitions and gaining global fame.

The exhibition at Metropolitan Museum is organized chronologically and by technique, featuring new takes on traditional Murano decorative techniques. Among others you will see colorful objects created in Bullicante technique where carefully controlled pattern of small bubbles is introduced into the glass, as well as trendy pieces made in elaborate and labor-intensive Filligrana and iconic Murrina (aka Millefiori) techniques. Streamlined shapes, elegance and bold colors characterize many of the pieces and highlight their contemporary appeal.

The exhibition at New York’s world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art will be running from November 5, 2013 through March 2, 2014 and is certainly not to be missed. We highly recommend visiting it for a unique opportunity to see the artistic value of Murano Glass up close and appreciate its transformation to a contemporary art form evolving in step with modern times.

by Kevin Grinberg

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Murano Island – 720 Years of Creating Glass




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.


This is part of the reason why, years ago, we established our company GlassOfVenice.com. Our mission is not only to bring the beautiful historic art of Murano Glass to people worldwide, but also to help this amazing art survive and flourish. By establishing close connections with the artisans and collaborating with them to continue creating new and traditional Murano Glass objects we help them reach those who appreciate and value high-quality handcrafted artistic products and the heritage of Murano Glass. In the end it is you, our customers, who help Murano Glass art survive and prosper, and we thank you for your loyalty and hope for your continued patronage.

View of Murano, Italy
View of Murano, Italy
Murano, Italy
Creating authentic Murano Glass Creating authentic Murano GlassMaking Murano Glass

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