What are some facts about Murano glass?


Quick Answer

Murano glass originates from the island of Murano located next to Venice, Italy. It is a chemical glass created using lime, potassium, silica and sodium melted together in a furnace and combined with gold, silver and manganese to create a metallic effect.

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Full Answer

Glassmaking existed in Venice from the eighth century. In 1291, the government of Venice banned furnaces from central Venice and moved them to Murano due to the fear of fire in the crowded city. The glassmakers then became virtual prisoners on the island, with penalties, including death, for divulging glassblowing secrets. They could pass secret glassmaking recipe books down from father to son, but not to outsiders. The Venice society treated the glassmakers as royalty and gave them many privileges, including immunity from prosecution and ability to marry into the royal families.

At one point in history, Murano glass was an extremely valuable and luxurious commodity only available in small sizes to the rich and wealthy. During the Middle Ages, Murano products sold at a high price and were predominantly responsible for the power and wealth of the Venetian Republic. With the invention of glassblowing, the glass became accessible to the general public.

Techniques used by modern Murano glass makers remain the same as those used in the Middle Ages. The designers engrave patterns on the glass using a diamond point, metal needle or rotating wheels.

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