The aesthetic appeal of Murano glass, combined with its rich history, make it a sought-after material by collectors, interior decorators, and museum curators alike. Over time, many a manufacturer has tried to mimic the appearance of Murano glass, but all have fallen short of capturing its true beauty.
The Lost Craft of Glass-Making
Artifacts from the ancient Roman Empire weave a tale of skilled glass artisans performing painstaking, complicated techniques. From crude tools and raw materials the Romans created beautiful pieces of art, bursting with fine detail.
Sadly, when the Roman Empire fell to barbarians in 476, so did the art of glass-making. Or so it seemed.
A Revival of Skills
Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, a handful of artisans from Byzantium and Egypt continued the practice of fine glass-making.
Much later in history, when Venice became a major trade center for goods coming from the Middle East, the Venetians learned these long-coveted glass-making skills from the Byzantines and Egyptians.
A Dangerous Profession
The Venetians did well with their new-found skills. They crafted elaborate vases and mirrors that were highly prized by upper-class Europeans as symbols of status.
The factories that produced this glassware, however, were prone to fires, and the hustle and bustle of the busy Venice trade center left the artisans worried that their secret techniques would be revealed. Something had to be done.
Murano Glass is Born
The solution came in 1291, when, in an effort to contain the glass-making fires and to discourage the prying eyes of Venice's competitors, the chief magistrate of the city declared that all glass-making operations would be moved to Murano — a small island off the coast of Northern Italy.
On this little island, the art of fine glass-making is still alive and well today. It is there that skilled glass workers create gorgeous chandeliers, mirrors, decorative art, and jewelry. Some of these remarkable handcrafted glass pieces take as long as two weeks to create.
Keeping it Real
How do you know when you've found an authentic Murano glass piece? Handcrafted Italian glass will have imperfections — this uniqueness is part of its beauty. Look for tiny bubbles in the glass and an uneven texture throughout the piece.
Murano glass will be brightly colored, but not painted. It will also be specifically labeled “Murano glass” instead of labeled with a more vague term such as “Murano-style glass” or “Murano-like Glass”. Purchase your Italian glass from a reputable source, such as OrnamentShop.com. A true Murano pieces will come packaged neatly and will be signed by the master craftsman who created it.
If you're looking for a special gift for yourself or a loved one, consider a piece of Murano glass art. Every piece is original, beautiful, and painstakingly crafted from techniques perfected long, long ago.
Amanda Meeks is an avid writer and mom of four. Whenever she has the time, she likes to share her insights by posting online. You can find her helpful and engaging posts on many websites and blogs.