The island of Murano is divided in nine small island and it is crossed by a large canal. Murano is the island of glass ware. An old tradition, but at the same time actually that has employed, in this charming working, whole glassmakers’s generations.
The name of island of Murano came from “ Ammurianum”, named by first people that they have lived there; which they were got away from the city of Altino and Oderzo to find shelter during barbarian invasions. This particular name should come from “ Porta Orione” in the city of Altina because, people who got away, wanted to pay a tribute. However, this version is not confirmed by historic date and sometime could be mixed with folktales and real facts.
Until tenth century, the island of Murano was famous for its important trade , city-port and for its economic wellness supported by salt flats, watermills and fishing. The city was autonomous until 1171, them took part of Santa Croce district.
Since 1275 the island could make laws for themselves, guaranteed by a “ Maggior Consiglio” created by about five hundred of Murano nobles, also could make their currency, called “ Osella”.
The autonomy of Murano was confirmed under Napoleon, when it was recognized as an independent city hall. In 1923 the institution became part of Venice’s city hall.

Murano Glass

Murano, the glass island

Charming story of Murano glass born in 1291, when Venice glassworkers moved to Murano.

This decision was very important for people of Murano, it happened because this furnace created a dangerous fire in the center of venice.
All glassworkers was concentrated in Murano, it was helpful for venice to control the activity of glassworkers and to protect art known all over the world. The island became very famous and that is why Venice obligated glassworkers to live there and also it was forbidden to leave the island without a special permit.

Despite these restrictions, many glassworkers run away, bringing with them, experience, knowledge craft and and exporting their famous technic abroad. The most important crisis for glassworks was on 15 century, when it began the manufacture of bohemian crystal. Venice got out of the crisis thanks by the development and realisation of chandeliers, which is the most famous and valued works made with Murano glass.

In 1602, the mayor, created a golden book. The process to be registered required too much time, also it was done following the concept of republic. those who were not registered couldn’t work in glassworks, to take part of councils and get some benefits and privileges guaranteed for the citizen of Murano.

In 1900 , the glassmakers were able to follow trends and fashions modern art , focusing to a Murano glass processing improved, while respecting the ancient tradition , which values the glass works of Murano in a unique and inimitable way .


Glass is formed from silica, which became liquid at hight temperature; is in the moment of passage between liquid state and solid state which the glass becomes soft and malleable,allowing the glassworkers to create unique and inimitable works.

the experience gained over time has brought the glassmakers of Murano to discover that the usage of different materials during the processing make possible for the glass to change its appearance, creating unique and beautiful visual effects. for example sodium is used to produce glass mat, or nitrate and arsenic, are used to remove bubbles. colour and technic change depending on the results that the glassmakers are looking for.
the works of Murano glass is often divided in two different classes: Primary processing and Second processing.

Make part of first process all those process which use raw material, like sand, soda and other compounds, or the raw glass called “cotisso”. these elements are melted in special furnace in order to obtain the vitreous mixture which is subsequently worked.

In the second process, make part the elaboration a lume with the use of glass rods , the glass melting and cold ” processes ” such as the decoration , engraving and grinding .


The term “ avventurina” describes a glass invented in Murano around 1620 which is formed from tiny crystal of copper wrapped in a glass mass. The secret of “ avventurina” working, held in the centuries by a few glassmakers, is to add a completed fusion specific quantity of raw material such as iron typing, silicon metal and coal, up to the precipitation of copper. The homogeneity of distribution of crystal’s copper characterize “avventurina”’s quality.
The origin of the term “avventurina” takes its name from a definition given, in the seventeenth century, by glassmaker John Darduin: “la si dimanda venturina, et con ragione, perché sortisse più per ventura che per scientia”.

It is called crystal the colourless and transparent glass, decolourized with manganese dioxide, obtained with purified raw materials. Since the Middle Ages the crystal is considered the finest Murano glass. The secret of its quality lies in the purify of raw materials used, use of bleaching, preparation of mixture and conduct of fusion. In the mid-fifteenth century, Murano proposed a pure and colourless glass, that for the fist time in history it was called “crystal” and was subsequently reproduced in other european countries. The sodium crystal is very suitable for the production of very light blown-glass objects that require long working times.

It is a glass obtained with a hot decorative technique, which involves use of chopsticks containing smooth wires in “ lattimo” or coloured glass.

“Lattimo” is a matt white glass such as milk, the invention is dated in 1450 in Murano in order to imitate chinese porcelain arrived in Venice. Higher is the concentration of zinc oxide in the mixture, higher will result homogeneity of crystals.
Similar to “ lattimo”, from an aesthetic point of view, is “ vetro smaltato” with lead arsenate especially used in the working of pearls and “ filigree”.

In the middle of fist century b.c. was a technique that revolutionized glass production, making rapid and accessible the production of glass bowl helping the spread even at most modest classes. The origin of “ soffiatura” occurred in syrian-palestinian area. At the beginning there was not a real blowpipe but a hollow pipe that it was closed at one end allowing the modelling in that zone in the form of small bottle, while in the other end was done the blowing generated by master glassmaker.
In a second time the modelled object was removed from the rest of glass pipe.
The introduction of a metal pipe made easier the work of glassmaker and increased the range of procuts.

The “ sommerso” is a type of glass art of Murano which presents layers with contrasting colours. The technique consists in immersion of “ soffiato” with a large thickness into melting pot containing transparent glass or other colours with the same thickness. The overlap of thick layers of transparent glass allows to obtain special chromatic effects. This process is a popular technique for vases and it is sometimes used for the sculptures.



The “ conterie” are glass beads rounded off or sharp edge obtained with “lume” processing, cutting perforated tubes placed in the furnace for about ten meters. The glass pipe undrilled is softened by the heat of fire (from a torch), subsequently wrapped around a metallic tube which gives the pearl the wanted shape and finally decorated using of polychromatic glass.

Decorato a smalto
The technique of glass decorated with enamel involves the use of coloured compounds obtained with dust of low-melting opaque and transparent glass finely mixed applied by a brush on the surface of the glass to realized a decoration which can takes abstract shapes, vegetable or figurative. The decorated object is subsequently subjected to a thermal cycle that does not exceed 500 °C, in this way glass applied with a brush adheres permanently to the glass surface used as support.

With “ Millefiori” is called a perforated or undrilled pipe that has within it several concentric glass layers of different colours and shapes (usually flowers or stars). The processing involves the use of open molds that impress step by step different shapes depending of different colour layer and subsequently the position of the pipe for ten metres. A special type of “ Millefiori” pipe is “rosetta” which is dated in the fifteenth century characterized by star pattern in white, red and blue glass ( with alternative layers). The “ Millefiori” pipe is usually cut into sections called “ murrine”.
The parts obtained from a perforated pipe ( after being grinded) can became pearls.
While non-perforated sections may be side by side and fused by heat of the oven so can be packed plates and bowls and if fused to the bottom of a small hemispherical mass of crystal, pressa carte or presse-papier.

The grinding is a technique unchanged for many years, which allows to dig the glass and it is made in several stages. The fist step involves use of a wheel made with silicon carbide ( grain 80), the second step involves to fix the incision previously carried out with a wheel ( always in silicon carbide, but with a finer grain 220), in the third step we carry out with “ molatura” and smoothing engraving through use of wheel in natural sandstone. In the fourth and last step the object passed again under a cork wheel impregnated by a mixture made with pumice stone and water in order to gloss the incision. At the end we proceed cleaning and making object bright with a wet cloth wheel of cerium oxide and water.

The origin of venetian mirror come from Renaissance age. the processing mirror is based on a glass sheet, with one part coated with aluminium or silver, that produce an image, for reflection, of figure in front of it. just at the end of twelfth century and at the beginning of thirteenth century there was a diffusion of mirror glass made with metal, and with renascence, in venice and norimberg became the most popular place for the production of it. in the sixteenth century the most famous system to make a mirrored glass surface It consisted in applying a thin reflective metal layer , often an alloy of mercury and tin. subsequently in 1835 Justus von Liebig discover the chemical process to coat glass with silver which gave origin of production of today’s mirrors. the processing is to spray, vacuum, a thin layer of aluminium or silver in the lower part of glass sheet and just wait the reaction by electrolysis.The metal layer deposited on the opposite side to the reflective is covered by a paint for protective purposes.

Fusion of the glass
Is a very old technic, into make part also glass mosaic. Section of glass of different colour are put on a ceramic fiber plate and melted in an electric furnace so as to obtain a multicolored fabric called vitreous mosaic or murrina glass . in the sheet are arranged fragments or granules of glass of different colors that blend in with the basic vitreous support . the operation can be repeat more time, overlaying the colour making a three-dimensional decoration. just at the end of twelfth century and at the beginning of thirteenth century there was a diffusion of mirror glass made with metal, and with renascence.

Vetro murrino
Vetro Murrino is one of the oldest technic, is a kind of second works it consists in glassy plate made by welding with heat tiles in different colored glass rods cut with polychrome, the plate is subsequently molded with the use of a mold in fireclay and can also be further modified by taking the form of a vase.

1 Comment

  1. Deborah Telles

    I just purchased my first millifiori vase. It is very pretty. After reading this article I appreciate the vases beauty even more.
    Thank you.

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