Murano Glass is a very versatile piece of glassmaking art. There exist various colors, techniques, materials that can vary depending on the look of the object the glassmaker is creating. It’s well known that Venetian artists do not add any special coloring chemicals to color the glass. To create a certain color of the transparent glass, the glassmaker adds different combinations of metals. The compounds involved in this process are very sensitive to proportions so one should be extremely accurate in mixing them. For example, aquamarine color is created through the use of combination of copper and cobalt compounds, green - copper oxides, ruby red uses a gold solution as a coloring agent.
The base of many types of Murano glass is Cristallo – a special clear glass of highest quality. This name is associated with the names of precious stones – as this glass has a perfect transparency quality.
Another great invention of Venetian glassmakers is lattimo glass (milky glass) – an opaque white glass. Mostly lattimo glass is used in the form of thin canes to make elaborate lacy patterns in clear glass.
Murano artisans used a lot of techniques of glassmaking originated from the Ancient times. They made a lot of improvements in many processes creating new designs and elaborating the quality of the glass itself. Among the types of glass inherited from Egyptians, Romans, and Middle Eastern glassmakers one can mention smalto (enameled glass), aventurine (glass with threads of gold), imitation of gemstones made of glass etc.
One of the most famous types of Murano glass in the world is millefiori glass – literally a visiting card of Murano glassmakers nowadays. In short, millefiori is glasswork technique, which makes millions of one-of-a-kind patterns on glassware. The term “Millefiori” is a combination of two Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).
The millefiori technique involves two basic procedures. The first technique is layering of a number of layers of glass of different colors in a mold that produces different patterns viewable only from the cut ends. These patterns are called murrines. Further, the murrines are embedded into clear or colored glass to create unique combinations of patterns.
Though nowadays there are many famous schools of glassmaking in the world, the Murano glassmakers still hold the positions of the leaders in introduction of many technological processes and innovations in glass creations. Murano glass is used in many spheres of artisan work – production of lighting fixtures (chandeliers, wall sconces etc.), glass sculptures, parts of home decoration pieces like door handles, curtain rods etc.
Today, Murano is the home of the Museo Vetrario (Glass Museum) in the Palazzo Giustinian, which holds displays on the history of glassmaking as well as glass samples ranging from Egyptian times through the present day.
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