What is Murano Glass?
Murano Glass is made on the island of Murano, located within the city of Venice in Northern Italy. This glass is made from silica, soda, lime and potassium melted together in a special furnace at a temperature of 1500°C to reach a liquid state.
Therefore, Murano Glass is defined as being made in a special place using special techniques. It is glass in a chemical sense of the word. However, Murano glass is as different from, say, the glass in your window panes, as Rembrandt paintings are different from an empty canvas.
How is Murano Glass different from any other glass?
Once the glass mixture is prepared using the ingredients above, very thin layers of real 24K gold or sterling silver are often added to it (this is known as gold or silver leaf), along with various minerals to give glass its vibrant colors and designs. The resulting liquid glass mixture is then mouth-blown and/or hand-shaped by master glassmakers in a series of elaborate steps using special techniques such as Millefiori, Sommerso, Reticello, Filligrana, Bullicante, and many others.
For example, in Avventurina technique the master uses copper shavings to add Aventurine mineral-like sparkles to the glass piece. In Millefiori technique the artisans use small slices of special glass canes with a design inside and fuse them together for a quilt-like appearance. In Bullicante regular bubbles are introduced into the glass mixture. These and other techniques create specific recognizable looks that are characteristic of Murano Glass.
Colors are achieved only by using minerals, so unlike painted colors, they never fade. For example, zinc is added for white color, cobalt for blue, manganese for violet, gold for red.
Murano Glass has long history. Today it is an art form.
Murano’s special glassblowing process is over a thousand years old. It was re-discovered by the local artisans when they found ancient Roman glassware at the end of the first millennium. The craft of Murano glass-making has eventually become one of the main industries in the mighty Venetian Republic. As such, it has continuously evolved over the centuries, reaching global fame and turning into the art form we know today.
However, to this day the master glass-makers on Murano use only basic tools to shape, polish, and perfect the glass. Most of these tools have been developed in the Middle Ages and both the tools and the glass-blowing process have hanged little since then. This method of glass-making results in unique creations with rich coloring and beautiful, sometimes surreal, patterns and shapes, which are real artworks.
For this reason, high-end Murano Glass is considered to be Art Glass, or the glass made not merely by craftsmen, but by artists of glassmaking, called maestros in Italian. Even though beautiful glassware and crystal has also been created in other places around the world, none of the glassware still produced today has such a rich history and so much artistic value as Murano glass.