Murano is a Venetian island, which has specialized in fancy glass ware for centuries. The skillfully crafted glass is aptly named Murano Glass. Murano’s glassmakers led Europe for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enamelled glass, glass with threads of gold, multicolored glass, milk glass, and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from art glass and glass figurines to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers, as well as tourist souvenirs. The Murano Museum of Glass is located in the Palazzo Giustinian. The entrance tickets cost €4.00 and you can even watch a 15 minute glass blowing demonstration.
Murano glass is made up of mostly silica sand, as well as substances called “fluxes” and “stabilizers” (soda and lime). These added “fluxes” allow the glass to be melted at a lower temperature, and the “stabilizers” prevent the glass’s solubility in water. When the glass melts at a lower temperature, it is possible to create the flawless glass. The glass in its basic composition is colorless, and the colors are obtained by adding small amounts of minerals, oxides, and chemicals to the glass powder.
The “Murrine” technique begins with the layering of colored liquid glass, which is then stretched into long rods called canes. When cold, these canes are then sliced in cross-section, which reveals the layered pattern. This is defined by each layer of molten color being molded into a star, then cooled and layered again. When sliced, this type of murrine has the appearance of many flowers, leading to the phrase “millefiori” (thousand flowers) to describe the technique.