Murano Glass, Crafted by Artisans and Lovingly Incorporated into our Stunning Jewellery
Glass bead production dates back to Egyptian times and then to the Romans. The first references to Venetian glass production are found from the ninth century when the work of phial and bottle makers was recorded. The skills and raw materials were imported from Eastern Mediterranean countries, primarily Syria, and through the middle ages were important in Venetian trading with Mediterranean and African countries.
Initially found throughout Venice, the industry was relocated to Murano by order of the Venetian Great Council, partly for safety reasons as the furnaces in which the glass was worked were a threat to the city’s mainly wooden construction, but also to keep the developing techniques of the craftsmen away from the prying eyes of competitors. A decisive factor in the development of Murano as a key glass manufacturer was the invention in the fourteenth century of clear glass by Angelo Barovier; glass became for the first time transparent, pure and like rock crystal.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many new types of glass and glass production were invented. Iced glass with a rough external surface, translucent glass produced by immersing the hot, unfinished piece in cold water, and possibly the best known of all, filigree. Invented in 1527 by Filippo Catani della Sirena, filigree is made by incorporating glass rods with thin threads of white milk glass or coloured glass into the crystal in different ways in either parallel or interwoven bands. Highly complex in manufacture, this glass remains a popular form in the twenty first century.
The production of Murano glass beads goes back to the fourteenth century when they were used to trade with countries in the African, American and Indian continents. Murano beads can be either conteria – seed beads, rosetta – chevron beads, or a lume – lamp-worked beads. Seed beads are monochrome, tiny and produced on a large scale from thin hollow glass rods and are used in embroidery and for decoration. Chevron beads are made of hollow rods with several multi-coloured layers and lamp-worked beads are made by heating a rod of solid glass over a flame or lume as the molten glass drips onto a metal wire that is continually rotated, creating an infinity of variations in effects and colours.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the importance and production of Murano glass declined as a result of French occupation and then transfer to the Hapsburg Empire in 1814 when Austria brought the Venetian Republic to an end. However, through the latter half of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century Murano glass production has seen an exciting renaissance. Replication and reproduction of old designs and techniques have given way to new techniques, artisan restrictions to new artistic freedoms so that Murano Glass is once more at the forefront of an imaginative and creative art form that is carefully selected by The Bijoux Magpie for incorporating in jewellery that displays all of its unique variation of form and colour.
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