What is Murano Glass? Is it glass made in a special place? Or made using special techniques? It is actually both. Murano glass 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. Murano glass is created only on the island of Murano, located within the borders of the city of Venice in Northern Italy.
Murano’s special glassblowing process is over a thousand years old, having been re-discovered by the local artisans from the ancient Roman glassware at the end of the first millennium and continuously developed and enhanced upon ever since. 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. Very thin layers of real gold or sterling silver are often added to the glass mixture (also known as gold or silver leaf), along with various minerals to give glass its vibrant colors and designs. For example, copper is used for Avventurina mineral-like sparkles, zinc is added for white color, cobalt for blue, manganese for violet, gold for red. The resulting liquid glass mixture is then mouth-blown and/or hand-crafted by master glassmakers in a series of elaborate steps using special techniques such as Millefiori, Sommerso, Reticello, Filligrana, Bullicante, and many others.
The master glass-maker uses 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 changed 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 called 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 being produced has such a rich history and so much artistic value as Murano glass.