There are few things in this world as beautiful as Murano glass, an art steeped in history, centuries old. No one knows the exact date when the art of glass blowing in Murano began, but it is thought that it started in the 9th century. Murano’s reputation as a centre for glassmaking came to life when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291.
Murano's glassmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. They grew in social status as well as in wealth. By the 14th century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, they enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and were able to marry their daughters to Venice’s most affluent sons. Because glassmakers were so highly valued, they were forbidden from leaving the Republic. Nevertheless, many took this risk, setting up glass furnaces in surrounding cities and as far afield as England and the Netherlands.
By the end of the 16th century, three thousand of Murano island's seven thousand inhabitants were involved in some way in the glassmaking industry.
Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori),
milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these century-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass figurines to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.
Today, Murano is home to a numerous factories. A vast array of glass objects are sent enmasse all over the world.
The Museo Vetrario or 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.
The process of making Murano glass is rather complex. Most Murano glass art is made using the lampworking technique. The glass is made from silica which becomes liquid at high temperatures. As the glass passes from a liquid to a solid state, there is an interval when the glass is soft before it hardens completely. This is when the glass-master can shape the material.
Some of the Murano's historical glass factories remain today as well known brands, amongst them Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Millevetri and Seguso. The oldest glass factory is Antica Vetreria Fratelli Toso, founded in 1854.
Enjoy this video. It's a beautiful sampling of Venice, its glass artisans, factories, museums, and lovely products.
This post has been remixed from a Wikipedia article.