ARTISTIC GLASS IN MURANO
Venice and glass: a strong, enduring partnership that has lasted for centuries. It's natural to mention glass when talking about Venice. It's the same as associating the city with the Lagoon, its colours and the plays of light that have served as inspiration for the most iconic creations by local master glass blowers.
The art of solidifying silicon to obtain a hard yet delicate transparent material, suitable for countless purposes, is rooted in the ancient past. According to historians, glass was first made in Mesopotamia in the III millennium B.C. However, several archaeological digs suggest that glassmaking was already practiced in
Venice in the 7th century B.C. Furthermore, after the year 1000 A.D., its production had become so important that it was protected by specific laws. There was only one small problem - the presence of glass furnaces in medieval Venice, which was largely built of timber, presented a grave fire hazard. As a result, in 1291, for safety reasons, the Great Council ordered the glass workers to transfer to the Island of Murano, where they created a district that still exists. It was here that in the 13th century eyeglasses were invented, and here, in 1369 that mirrors began to be produced. It was also here, in 1450, that Angelo Barovier invented crystal. Throughout the Renaissance, glass was a rare commodity. It was only in 1827 that glass began to be produced on an industrial level. At that point, blown glass or glass produced by lampworking became a highly prized material used for aesthetic purposes, and achieved the height of its splendor during the Art Nouveau period. Artists including Lalique, Dammouse or Tiffany sought out the glass blowers of Murano to produce their coveted objects. During the midtwentieth century, real masters of the art including Signoretto, Ballarin, Zanetti and Vidal began to emerge in Murano.
Their works are highly coveted objects, true collectors' items that are often displayed at museums.
While strolling through the streets of
Murano, you'll be spoilt for choice. If you want to make a purchase, bear several criteria in mind. Crafting authentic Murano glass is no easy task and isn't cheap. Large objects require hours of work, so don't expect to take you custom-made lamp home on the same day. Furthermore, each piece is unique, meaning that small imperfections are an integral part of the value of the object. In short, if you come across a shop selling mass-produced items that promises quick delivery times or tempts you with low prices, beware.
Apart from some exceptions, it's better to do your glass shopping in Murano rather than in the city of Venice. Don't worry if you want to buy an object but don't have time to wait: the island's glass factories are now equipped to make safe deliveries anywhere in the world.