Murano Glass History

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With Australian eyes it is difficult to imagine a history that goes back thousands of years but let’s try……The ancient city of Venice was wealthy, cultured and progressive. Influenced and enriched by the entire known world (at that time) as the main trade route from Europe to the Far East. Venice was the epicenter of fashion, arts and lifestyle. In this climate and wealth the arts flourished with artisans making the most exquisite fabrics, bronzes, jewellery, chandeliers and mirrors. Within boutique cottage industry businesses technique was a closely guarded secret. Craftsmen require a lifetime to learn their trade and pass on the secrets to family members who follow in the family trade.
Indeed Venice dominated its rivals with technique and color but the city had its down side. The plague visited Venice repeatedly and it was impossible to control with such a transient population.
Also there were frequent fires, often originating in the studio of a Glass maker and the canals, narrow alleys and building style complicated fire management.

Whilst the origin of glass in Venice is unclear, in 1291 all glass furnaces were moved to the island of Murano. The official reason was to protect the ancient city from fire but it also served the glass makers well to be more isolated, in the hope of protecting the secrets of glass manufacture. Venice dominated the glass world unchallenged from 1400 to 1700 and today is still most respected and admired. The vast imagination of the Venetian artisan leads the industry, leaving its competitors floundering in their wake. By the time the Venetian product is copied it has already climaxed and moves towards something new. In any case the cost of the genuine article is not so unreasonable…..any one in the civilized world could afford a piece of genuine Murano Glass Jewellery without guilt.

Glass is first manufactured into canes in the various “Murano Colors” then sold to the Murano Bead Makingartisan to be fashioned into beads, sculpture or lighting. The Bead Maker melts the glass onto a turning piece of copper wire, making a seed of glass. This small seed of glass is then rolled onto Gold or Silver Leaf and then covered with various colored glass to achieve a luminous metallic effect. If an opaque color is selected the Gold or Silver Leaf is not necessary. The bead is crafted into the required shape by using a clamp in the form needed to mould the molten glass. The copper wire is snipped off with pliers and left overnight in a vat with other beads to dissolve away the copper leaving a hole where the copper had been. This hole of course is used for threading the beads together.

Whilst there are many large family owned businesses that flourish, the boutique businesses are the best for price and imagination. The heavy doors of the homes on the island of Murano disguise the labor intensive home based industry that goes on busily within. Insignia sources out beautiful Jewellery from boutique business’s and grooms the design to suit the taste of the Australian market. Fashionable colors, affordable prices and all beautifully Gift Boxed to delight ladies who like to match their garment with their Jewellery.