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So What’s So Special About Venetian Glass?


What is so special about Murano glass? Since a picture is worth 1000 words, we are hoping that this little picture may give a hint. But there is a lot of history behind this little piece of jewelry. And a lot of drama.

Let’s start with Barbarian invasions of the now Italian mainland about 1500 years ago. Those communities, mostly from Rome, relocated to the Venetian lagoons to get to safety. Among the talented mainlanders who took over the lagoon islands were creators of glass. Other talents from further east , Byzantium and the Middle East added their expertise and we are still admiring the colors, styles and craftsmanship. That’s one of the things that is so special. Tradition is valuable is one of the special things.


Fast Forward to the 1200s – Murano is the World’s First Industrial Zone

The Renaissance is approaching and the world is sharing lots of ideas and commerce, glass is becoming the principal industry of Venice. Venice becomes the crossroads of the east and west with commerce. The Venetian Empire is a force to be reckoned with. Arts, government, politics and a full society are all alive. At the head of it all is the Doge, the head of the governing Great Council. Drama, political struggle, inspiration, art and passion are all heating up. (But this is not a full history post so I’ll move on.)

Working their busy furnaces throughout Venice, the glassblowers have a bad habit of burning down their buildings and those around them. So in 1291 the doge “banishes” this bustling creative commercial activity to the small island of Murano, where busy furnaces in the new industrial center of Venice is established. Murano is today recognized as the first established industrial park of the world, becoming the glass production center of the world. The first clear class is being produced and called “cristallo”.

More processes that were explored then are still used now. No other producers anywhere could recreate the secrets of color creation, metal infusion for luster and design innovation. And this is still majorly true. Glass was an international luxury good. Seeing the product in person, you identify a particular luster which is not detectable in any other glass production. Another what’s so special for me.

A section from a larger view of Venice with the island of Murano in the distance (circa 1600 attributed to Danckerts in the style of the famous woodcut print by Jacopo de’Barbari circa 1500). From Big Bead Little Bead

Life as a Renaissance Glass Master

Being a Glass master, you’d have a hard but pretty enviable life. Why? Being an esteemed part of the critical commercial class, you’d have some great privileges. You would special entre’ into noble society and handy legal protections. You’d probably want to keep the gig and even keep your family in it as well – which is exactly what happened. So therefore the tradition of Murano glass businesses as a family tradition was established. Industrial secrets were locked among the producing families. Innovation was exploding. The Venetian Republic limited the glass makers from leaving Venice without being granted permission to protect the secrets. There was big punishment for disobeying the laws – like death if you were caught spilling the beans on industrial secrets.

So those are pretty special valuations on a product so prized. I love the intensity!

The Value of My Involvement with Murano Glass

So what is so special about Murano glass for me is the quality, history and commitment to an industry by an entire business and creative class of society. We love offering it in a cookie cutter world.

Murano blown glass goblets with elaborate detail in coral, light blue, gold
Cortella and Ballarin champagne glass fancy blown detail.

Venice’s artistic traditions in glass is still alive, as this Cortella and Ballarin champagne glass boasts. These are ancient glass artisan names on Murano still inspired by their centuries’ old creators before them newly created. The Venetian Renaissance period informs this creation. So as much as this is a traditional look, new innovative designs are always in the works as well.

Cortella and Ballarin blown glass jars light amber

So what’s so special about Venetian glass? – its long history, development, drama and passion over 1000 years. But what does that mean for you? It promises a product that its creators are proud to offer. It promises the romance of a storied product that I fell in love with at first sight. Each piece we curate is expressive and individual; created for a special person.