People have long appreciated glassware from Murano as both luxury homeware and high-end giftware. Today, Murano vases are still cherished and adored as objects of art filled with color and light. Here are a few surprising facts about these elegant vases.
Too dangerous for mainland Venice
Murano is an island off the coast of the main group of Venetian islands. Glassmaking was first started in Venice more than a thousand years ago. However, the process of making glass was, and still can be, even today, quite dangerous. Consequently, the rulers of Venice banned glassmaking from mainland Venice, as it posed too great a fire threat to the island’s wood houses. Glassmakers were sent to Murano.
A luxury item
Murano vases have been luxury items for centuries. Just as people do today, 18th-century travelers brought back these elegant glass vases to sell in upscale stores or to give as high-end gifts to friends and family. Buyers prized the Murano vases and often had cabinets designed specifically to show them off.
While new and innovative Murano glass designs continue to evolve, the standard process of creating Murano glass has not changed. The basic procedure was developed and refined in the Middle Ages. Lime, silica, sodium and potassium are slowly mixed together. Then, high heat is applied to create a molten liquid that can be shaped and molded as it cools. To add in the brilliant colors seen today in many vases, craftsmen add in minerals such as cobalt during the heating process.
Blown by hand
All Murano glass is blown by hand without help from modern machinery. Each piece is made by a master who has spent years studying the process and perfecting his or her knowledge. Craftsmen learn how to use specific techniques as the glass softens and hardens to create pleasing shapes. A master spends a lot of time practicing blowing on the glass and shaping it with metal tools.
In addition to adding color and creating shapes, glassmakers can also engrave their glass. Engraving can be done via a specially designed metal needle that traces a precise pattern on the glass. Rotating wheels are also used to score the metal.