Monday, May 18, 2009

Venice Glass Blowing

The other day, while placing my garden flowers into the vase I had purchased in Venice, Italy, I remembered that I had not mentioned this particular experience on my Blog while vacationing in that city. It was an interesting part of my travels and I thought, even at this late date, that I would share it with everyone.

Venice is famous for its fine glass products. Hand blown pieces of beauty are found in the many shops of Venice.
These creative pieces of glass are manufactured in Murano. Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th Century, and by the 10th Century it had grown into a prosperous trading center with its own coins, police force, and commercial aristocracy. Then, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered glass makers to move their foundries to Murano because the glass works represented a fire danger in Venice, whose buildings were mostly wooden at the time. What made Murano's glass makers so special? For one thing, they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make glass mirrors. They also developed or refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Their virtual monopoly on quality glass lasted for centuries, until glass makers in Northern and Central Europe introduced new techniques and fashions around the same time that colonists were emigrating to the New World.
If one takes the time to visit the ubiquitous glass shops on Murano or in Venice, and you'll find countless paperweights, glass beads and necklaces, knickknacks, and items of glass jewelry. Some are amusing: e.g., colored fish in transparent glass aquariums, or wrapped hard candies of multicolored glass. Others are pretty--glass necklaces and beads, for example.
These artists are allowed to let their imaginations run wild and while I found some items to be rather comical and "tacky", for the most part the products displayed in the showroom of Vetri Artisans were beautiful works of art.
I wandered through the several showrooms and was amazed at the workmanship, quality and beauty of all items displayed. Of course, most were 1)not within my price range and 2)would be hard to display in my home that is, for the most part, devoid of direct sunlight in which to display a piece. I finally settled on a beautiful flower vase (as pictured above)which was on sale and a perfect piece for my dining table.
I have a series of photos depicting the glass works shop and am experimenting, through this medium, with sending these photos via a slideshow. I have read many sources to embed a slideshow into my blog but I cannot review the final result until I post my blog! So, here goes. I hope you will see a video at the top right of my blog for you to follow. It shows the glass works and a master creating two objects.

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