Glass Blowing in Murano
Glassmaking in Murano comes from a common thread in Venetian history - the status of the settlement as a bridge between west and east. Glassmaking was an art that had reached a height in the countries of the Middle East - particularly in Syria, Egypt and Palestine - and Venice, looking outwards to the sea as always, was fertile soil for the specialised skills of the trade.
Many sources suggest that glassmaking was concentrated on the island of Murano because of the risk of fire from the furnaces on the more heavily populated areas of Rivo Alto and Dorsoduro. However, it is also highly likely that the industry was easier to control and influence when it was in one particular place.
As with the Arsenale, the Venetian authorities aimed to reward and guard a vital industry by keeping it comfortable within a "gilded cage". Incentives and conditions for workers and employers were strictly regulated by the administrators of the government body controlling the glassmaking industry.
And for a long time workers who left the island were forbidden from ever working again within the industry on Murano - a measure taken to stop the outflow of secrets and skills from the island.
Whatever the reasons for the concentration of glassmakers within such a small area, the effect was a tremendous cross-fertilisation of ideas which led to the leading role of Venetian glass within Europe.
Glassmaking in Venice suffered under foreign rule and it was not until Venice was made part of Italy that the fortunes started to rise again. The Venice Biennale at the end of the 19th century showed that the spark of glass art was not dead and the early 20th century saw interest grow in using traditional techniques as part of a new movement.
The post World War II increase in visitors and interest in Venetian history has brought criticism that much of the "tourist glass" produced is a) not even made in Murano and b) unworthy of its pedigree. But, on the other hand, the current interest has also enabled the development of specialist lighting and jewellery producers - as well as the high end glass sculptors and artists.
Click here to shop for this amazing creations by Murano artist in Exquisites Collection offered by Mestra.
Related Blog: 5 Things You (Probably) Don't know about Turquoise