Murano Glass is a term recognised around the world as a type of glass made on the island of Murano, situated in the Venetian Lagoon, about 1.5 kilometres north of Venice.
Although a lot smaller, it is similar to Venice in that the island is a series of small islands linked by bridges.
What are the types of Murano Glass?
- Conteria (seed beads)
- Cristallo (also know as cotizzo)
- Glass Sheet
- Gold and Silver Foil
- Lampwork Technique
- Millefiori (also known as Murrine)
- Sommerso (meaning 'submerged')
Avventurina glass was invented in Murano in the early 1600's. This type of glass has a glittery appearance due to thousands of micro particles of copper which have been added to it. It is a very difficult type of glass to work with and only a few expert glassmakers know the secret and have the skill. The copper particles need to be added in small doses and a very slow cooling cycle is needed which creates a difficult and time consuming project.
The term 'avventurina' comes from the Italian word 'ventura' which means 'fortune' and was first used in the 17th century by a famous glass maker caled Giovanni Darduin. He called it avventurina because he said that making objects with this type of glass was more due to good fortune than science.
The avventura method is mainly used for making more ornate household items such as vases, lampshades, lamps, paperweights and plates although it is also often used for jewellery.
Conteria (seed beads)
Conteria are very tiny Murano Glass beads are made from fine, hollow glass tubes of coloured glass.
The tubes are first rolled in vats of hot, coarse sand to polish the ends and round the corners. They are then rolled in vats of hot, fine sand to gently polish the surface. Once finished they are cut into tiny beads which form the basis of many of the more intricate pieces of jewellery.
Cristallo (also know as cotizzo)
Cristallo, which translates as 'crystal clear glass' is 100% pure glass which is transparent. This type of colourless glass was invented in the middle of the 15th century on the island of Murano and was later imitated by other European countries.
The cristallo produced and used on Murano is composed of sodium oxide, calcic oxide and silica. The combination of these elements creates a glass which is suitable for light blown objects requiring a long working process.
Opaque coloured glass is produced in the same way but with the addition of raw colouring agents and a base of white opaline glass.
Fenicio, meaning Phoenician, was a technique imported to and used by the glass makers in Murano torwards the end of the 17th century.
It is a method by which a glassmaker can place a feather-like motif onto the glass object he is working on. This is done by hot threads of coloured glass being placed around the outside of a blown glass object and then combed with a special hooked tool called a maneretta.
The English translation of Filigrana is 'Filligree' and it is used in metal work as well as glass.
The glass maker gathers together several short lengths of glass canes, some clear and some with colour or pattern in the middle. These canes are set out side by side on a steel plate over a low heat until they begin to melt and then fuse together. Once they have fused they are gathered up by the tip of a blowpipe which has a collar of clear molten glass on the end. The blowpipe is attached to one end of the fused canes and then rolled along their length until they are all attached on the outside of the pipe. They are then melted further until they are soft enough to pinch them together at the bottom and then they are 'blown' into a bubble, after which the final shape is made.
It is commonly used for vases, bowls, tumblers and lamps and can either be coloured or be clear glass with a very delicate pattern in white running throughout.
This is one of the most recent and modern techniques used on the island of Murano.
A slab of Murano glass is placed on a table and different types of loose materials are placed on it, such as small pieces of different coloured glass and gold and silver foil. These loose materials are moved around to form different colour schemes and patterns which takes many hours and a lot of skill. Another slab of Murano glass, of a different colour, is then placed over the top and the whole thing is baked in the oven overnight.
The glass is then cut into different shapes and is used to make exclusive handmade objects such a plates, picture frames, jewellery, pendants and keyrings.
Gold and Silver Foil
During the first stages of work the glassworker, using the end of a blowpipe, rolls the hot glass over thin leaves of gold or silver making them stick to the surface. As the glass is blown the leaves shatter into a fine powder giving a wonderful sheen to the area of glass to which they were stuck.
The gold and silver can also be applied to cooled glass and made into a decorative pattern with a sharp implement. The item is then re-fired to make the decoration set permanently on the glass surface.
The 'Incalmo' method of working is extremely difficult and it relies totally on the dexterity of the glassmaster. It is not a job that can be rushed or interrupted and needs complete peace, quiet and patience, as well as incredible skill.
The technique consists of joining two different coloured blown objects together and then forming them into the desired shape.
This is one of the most ancient and common methods still used on the island of Murano to make objects and jewellery out of glass.
Different types of glass are continually melted and added together to make never ending combinations of colour and shapes. It is a difficult technique which requires the glass maker to burn a gas flame all day long so that he can reach high temperatures to constantly melt and add new colours. The secret of this method has been handed down over hundreds of years from father to son and requires a lot of imagination, patience and precision.
The majority of our pieces of jewellery online here are made by this method.
Lattimo is taken from the word 'latte' which is the Italian word for milk. It is an opaque, white glass which was invented on Murano around 1450 as a method of imitating fine Chinese porcelain.
It was originally used to make objects which could be decorated with polychrome enamels. Today the materials and the original method have changed slightly and it is used mainly for making beads.
Millefiori (also known as Murrine)
Millefiori (meaning a thousand flowers), is long, thin canes (rods) of either solid or hollow glass made from a piece of glass with different colours to form a single flower design. This piece of glass is then stretched it until it is extremely long and thin. No pattern can be seen from the outside but when the cane is thinly sliced the small cross sections resemble flowers.
The solid canes are cut into tiny pieces, each with a slight variation of the original pattern, and then fused together in the kiln to make jewellery, paperweights, vases, dishes and bowls.
The hollow canes, similar to a very long drinking straw, are cut in the same way and again, each one is slightly different to its neighbour, and they are then used as beads in jewellery.
It is important to remember that due to the nature of how these little millefiori are made it is impossible to have two pieces exactly alike. Therefore, if you are purchasing an item consisting of millefiori it will not be identical to the one you see in a photograph online. This means that the piece of jewellery or ornament that you buy will be totally unique.
Sommerso (meaning 'submerged')
This technique requires an already blown, thick glass object to be totally immersed into a pot of different coloured transparent glass. It is coated with the new colour in exactly the same thickness as itself and then blown into the desired shape resulting in a beautiful chromatic effect.
This method is used mostly for vases and sculptures but is occasionally used for other pieces.