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How It's Made: Murano Glass

 

Long synonymous with glassmaking, the island of Murano is a bustling hub of unique works of art and skilled artisans. Dating back to the 10th century, this time-honored tradition has created many beloved jewelry styles and collectibles.

 

 

In 1921, the Republic of Venice sent glassmakers and furnaces to the lagoon-surrounded island of Murano in Italy. Some people argued this move posed too great a threat in an area comprised heavily of wooden buildings, but it was most likely done in an attempt to isolate the artisans and protect this lucrative trade. From this point forward, the artisans of Murano continued to innovate in the field of glassmaking, conceiving new methods of production and improving upon existing techniques.

The art of Murano glassmaking is extremely precise and has been continually honed for centuries — often a skillset passed down through family generations. It takes years of experience for a glassmaker to be regarded as a master artisan. Typically, these masters will have a particular specialty, whether it's creating very detailed objects or demonstrating a knack for mixing colors to design special canes. The "l'omo de notte" or "man of the night" is another type of expert artisan. Handling the ovens each night, they know exactly how to manage the fire to keep a constant and deliberate temperature in preparation for the different steps in production the next day. These craftspeople know how to achieve different depths of color based on the heat or even what ingredients are used in the creation of the cane to produce different shades or glass composition.

Once the glass has melted, it is ready to be shaped in different ways. One method is lampworking, which employs a glass tube that is softened with a flame allowing it to be manipulated into any shape. Another is glass fusing, where glass sheets of various colors are stacked in order to produce unique chromatic effects. While the master artisan brings to life their vision, others work tirelessly to handle tasks like lighting the fire, heating up the canes, supporting the piece, and executing subsequent orders.

Today, a blend of modern and old school methods is used to create amazing and unique pieces, from jewelry to home decor. This beautifully handblown glass is available in multicolored styles like pendant necklaces and drop earrings — and what makes these items even more desirable is, due to their handmade nature, no two are alike.

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