About Murano Glass
Murano’s reputation as a center for glassmaking began in 1291, when the Venetian Republic ordered its glassmakers to move to the island, as glassmaking posed a threat to the wooden buildings of Venice. The Forcelanti (glass cutters) thrived in Murano, and within the following century they held a monopoly on quality glassmaking.
The Forcelanti perfected many technologies over the centuries, including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori, or thousand flowers), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass.
Today, some very exclusive designs, shapes, and colors belong only to a few forcelanti Masters who still protect the ancient secrets.
My musings about Murano….
As cheap copies from the East continue to appear on the collectible fine-glass market, will the time-honored quality and intrinsic beauty of Murano glass triumph over the onslaught of inferior, fraudulent facsimiles? Production costs for Murano glass have risen steadily over the past decade, along with shipping costs, as well. It’s not easy to find young workers who are willing to stand in front of a super-heated furnace for twelve hours a day, and the Murano artisans whose skills hearken to past generations are aging out. The challenges of the EU’s financial conditions affect both tourism and manufacturing, and owners of Murano’s glassworks struggle to comply with EU health and environment regulations, often at great cost.
Romantic and beautiful, nearby Venice is a crowded tourist destination, while charming Murano beckons with offers of respite from the throngs. Already, a high-end hotel chain has plans underway to convert a glassworks into elegant lodging, and another such conversion is being considered. Will tourism edge out an age-old industry that has defined the region for hundreds of years? If the tiny cameo “factories” near Naples are a credible barometer, we can hope, likewise, for the endurance of Murano’s glass makers and their noble and fanciful creations, because Murano glass will always be desired and cherished by those who demand quality, pedigree, and provenance, despite scarcity or price.
Source: Murano Pursues a Rennaissance, New York Times, By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
Published: June 3, 2010