Murano Glass: An Ancient Tradition
An old saying goes Good tools are useful but expert hands are better to highlight how important the ability of a craftsman in modelling his creations is.
An old saying goes Good tools are useful but expert hands are better to highlight how important the ability of a craftsman in modelling his creations is. One of the oldest arts in Venice is surely the glasswork. For centuries, glass objects made in Murano have been admired, imitated and bought by the European courts since their colors, the transparency of the material and their original shapes were very appreciated. The glass in Murano is still worked manually in a traditional way, which leaves astonished the visitors of the numerous glass factories of the island.
A Secret to Protect
The story of this handicraft begins in very ancient times when all furnaces were still in Venice and were moved to Murano only at the end of the 13th century due to a law of the Serenissima. The Venice Republic meant to protect the city from the danger of fire since buildings were made of wood and the high temperatures of glass ovens were a real danger. Anyway, when the Serenissima realized the value of this material, it aimed also to safeguard the secret of this ancient art controlling and preventing that glass blowers could leave the island and head abroad spreading their knowledge outside Venice.
At the beginning, glass was used to fabricate common objects like bowls and glasses and only later it was used to create artistic objects to be exposed in the houses. The glorious period of this art was reached during the Renaissance, when new techniques of glass making were invented. Big chandeliers with decorations of glass flowers and leaves were created in the 18th century as well as glass mirrors with decorated frames with flowers and many other ornaments which still remain the most beautiful masterpieces of Murano glass blowers.
The Glass School Abate Zanetti
Today the techniques and the secrets of this art are no more handed down only from teacher to apprentice in glass factories like in the past. In 1862 abbot Zanetti founded a Glass School called Istituto Tecnico Superiore in Murano where students from all over the world can attend courses about glass making and alternate study at school and work in a real glass factory.
The school is also open to tourists who want to make an exclusive experience creating their small work of art by themselves. A great collection of glass masterpieces of ancient and modern art is exhibited in the nearby Glass Museum.