The Glass Island Of Murano Venice
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A nine-minute boat ride from Fondamente Nuove in northern Venice lies the Murano island. For centuries, Murano in Venice, Italy has been thriving on its indigenous glass making industry. Water is the lifeblood of the Murano island. It has only one bridge. Called the ‘Ponte Longo’, it was built in 1866 out of iron.

Venice has archived preserved evidences of glass blowers’ existence on the Murano island from the year 982. History tells us that around the year 1279, the glass making industry of Murano was confined to ‘Rio Dei Vetrai’, which today is the hub of old glass making factories. Murano’s piece of luck came in the year 1291 when Venice, keeping in mind the fire hazards that the business posed, invited its glass making artisans to move their furnaces to murano island. Till the 17th century, Murano became the most important centre of the art of glass making.

DSCN2247 From 1200 to 1950, Venice held the monopoly of producing glass pearls, locally called ‘conterie’. These glass pearls, created while working the glass on in open flame came to be so revered for their beauty and perfection that these became a sort of currency among the natives. Venice had strict property confiscation laws which prevented the glass workers from immigrating to other parts of the world. However, despite of Venice’s strict control, a few artisans and teachers found their way into Florence, London, Italy and other parts of Europe, carrying with them their revered art of Murano glass.

DSCN2209 As the Serenissima Republic fell, so did the art of Murano glass, reviving again in 1800′s due to the contribution of Toso, Seguso, Salviati and Barovier families. Forever a close-knit art, Murano glass factories still employ up to 60 workers in the same work environment as their compatriots from centuries ago. Till the 1800′s, each company held its own glass bead secrets which were later debunked by the advancements in chemistry and material sciences. Today, the designs are far less intricate due to price constraints.

In small companies, 3-4 artisans work on a Murano glass object while in bigger ones, this number may go up to 18. Shades of red and yellow are the hardest to obtain. Objects made in Murano glass include bases, sculptures, statues of animals etc. Pieces signed by Venini, Carlo Moretto and Barovier & Toso are valued all over the world. About 100 smaller factories work glass over candle flame, eliminating the need of a furnace and producing small beautiful pieces like small animals and human figurines.

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