Murano glass is a type of glass made on the Italian island of Murano that has been specially created and treated. Murano glassmakers have been creating signature works and processes for glass products such as jewelry since the 13th century. Murano glass is a beautiful form of art that has a long history of innovation.
The Venetian government ordered glassmakers to relocate many of their studios to Murano Island in the late 13th century. It’s thought that this was done out of fear of glassmakers’ high-temperature firing, which could be dangerous in Venice’s mostly wooden city. Murano’s glassmaking community grew in importance in Italian trade and was prized for its beauty.
Within a century, the glassmakers had risen to prominence as the island’s most powerful citizens. They were given privileges normally reserved for nobility, such as marrying into the aristocracy and being allowed to wield swords. Their products became so important to the island’s economy that glassmakers were forbidden from moving elsewhere for fear of selling trade secrets to other cities.
A silicate glass is heated to a liquefied state using intense heat to make Murano glasses. The liquid is frequently mixed with other chemical compounds that affect the finished product’s color, texture, and opacity. A glass maker can mold the glass into any shape they want as it slowly turns from liquid to solid, from tiny beads to delicate vases or lamps.
Murano’s glassmakers are credited with inventing or modernizing a wide range of glass types, including the popular millefiori beads. These intricate beads are made layering multiple colors of glass during the solidification process, which can then be formed into tiny floral and geometric patterns. Murano glass also includes some white milk glass varieties, as well as aventurine glass, which has gold and copper colored shimmers.
Murano glass and its history account for a large portion of the island’s tourist trade. Visitors can shop for Murano glass, visit museums dedicated to the art form, and even watch glassmakers at work in one of the many glass factories. For the tourist trade, many tourist attractions include glassblowing demonstrations.
While Murano glass techniques are significant in the history of glassmaking, it is not universally adored. The coloring agents used in the firing process produce intensely vibrant blue, yellow, and red hues. The bright colors are deemed gaudy, disconcerting, and occasionally tacky some critics. Modern techniques, on the other hand, allow for greater subtlety, and Murano glass is used in a wide range of high-quality modern art pieces.
Murano glass is readily available online and in some specialty glass stores if you are interested in purchasing it. Always check with any seller to see if the glass is genuine or “Murano-style,” which can be made anywhere in the world using similar techniques. Authentic Murano work is pricey, with larger pieces like vases and pitchers costing between $150 and $500 US Dollars (USD). Single glass bead pendants are less expensive, costing between $35 and $85 USD on average.