The art of Venice glass blowing is a beautiful, concentrated art and hand-crafted glass forming technique. The art typically happens when the glassworker physically blows into the glass, manipulating it with a torch to create an exquisite work of art. In this guide, learn about the art of Venice glass blowing and the best places to find this exquisite art in the Floating City.
In this blog, we’ll explain:
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History of Venice Glass Blowing and Murano
Venice coined the nickname ‘Glass Island’ all the way back in the 10th century. Since, the title has been shared with one of Venice’s islands, Murano. The whole Venetian Republic played a huge role in the history of glass blowing and why it is such a rare art held in high regards. By 1291, Venice was starting to boom with the thriving art of glass blowing. Since the city posed a huge fire hazard, the glassmakers were concentrated to the island of Murano.
Glass blowing had become so popular that other cities and countries were trying to mimic the art. The esteemed glass blowers from the Venetian Republic were heavily praised, but their skill and talents came at a price. The glassmakers were worked tirelessly, often referred to as prisoners of Murano in many current historical accounts. Revealing their secrets to their glass blowing techniques was even punishable by death. The art took precedence over everything else and because of this, the Venetian Republic thrived, holding a monopoly of glass art that lasted for centuries.
The Venice Glass Blowing Technique
Presently, Venice is still the number one place to visit when looking for glass art. Cristallo (refined glass), Millefiori (multicolored glass), Lattimo (milk glass) and imitation gemstones are all types of glass art that can be seen and bought in Venice today. Though the artisans that produce the glass art have changed over the centuries, the methods and tools that have been used since have not. Types of glass include hot glass, warm glass or cold glass and each of these types of glass has their own techniques.
Hot glass is blown into and sculpted, warm glass is baked in an oven or kiln and cold glass is etched on. Any which way, the process of glass blowing starts with its ingredients: high-quality soda lime glass is mixed with sand from Creta and Sicily. The two are mixed with Quartz from northern Italy and then melted together and blown into, to make delicate glass art. You can actually see this demonstration first hand at the Murano Glass Factory. There are countless techniques that can be used to perfect an artisan’s process in creating the glass art. There are even special tools that can help quicken the process.
Venice glass makers know that they are the real deal and the best of the best in the industry. It is said that the Venice glass makers rely on their skill set instead of any advantage caused by “special tools.” Sadly, the industry has been shrinking from 6,000 glass workers in 1990 to less than 1,000 today. Plus, imitated glass works from Asia and the Middle East take up nearly half of the market. Companies from Murano have decided to fight the imitation crisis, creating a trademark to specify whether or not the glass work was created in Murano.
Venice Glass Tips from a Local
The very best way to experience anything in Italy is to first get advice from a local Italian. Luckily, we have a Venetian on The Roman Guy team. According to Eleonora Cordella, our Digital Marketing Specialist, travelers should be sure to check out a local glass store called Ditta Vianello. Accoring to Eleonora, a proud Italian born and raised in Venice, this shop is one of the most authentic glass factories in Murano and it’s still run by its original family.
Best Places to Buy the Art
Want to get glass art for yourself, or see how it’s made? Definitely check out these glass art factories in Venice.
Vetreria Artistica Archimede Seguso
Vetreria Artistica Archimede Seguso is located in Murano and it is the best place to see and shop for glass art. Vetreria Artistica Archimede Seguso has been around for centuries and continues to produce distinguished glass art today. You should also look into the Museo Vetreria. Venice’s glass art museum showcases some of the most intricate glass art created over the decades. From old to new and big to small, the glass art fills the halls of this museum for all to see.
Vetreria Murano Arte
Another main glass shop to check out is definitely Vetreria Murano Arte. This shop even gives a tour of the process of glassblowing.
Artigianato d’Arte di Vianello
Artigianato d’Arte di Vianello is a glass shop known for its beautifully hand-crafted sea creature glass art. These are just some examples of the glass art that is waiting for you in Venice. Don’t forget about the exquisite jewelry that is handcrafted to be the perfect accessory or the beautiful vases that could be your new eye-catching decor.
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