This summer, Artbeads co-owners Devin and Cynthia traveled to Murano, Italy, to learn the truth behind Murano Glass. Murano glass is most commonly made using a lampworking technique, which requires melting the glass in order to mold it into the desired shape. The raw glass is made up of various particles, including siliceous sand, soda, lime and potassium. These components are first melted together in an oven which turns it into the molten glass material. Then, the artist removes it from the oven and is ready to mold. Manipulating the glass can be done with instruments like pliers and scissors, or glass blowing. This ancient art form began in the 9th Century and continues its legacy today.
While in search of real Murano glass, Devin and Cynthia met amazing new people who opened their eyes to a new way of appreciating this special glass. The rise of Murano glass’ popularity brought with it the integration of “Murano-Style” glass, a cheaper version that is nothing like the real deal. This was why Devin and Cynthia wanted to share their experience—to prove to customers that the Murano glass we sell is just like the ones they found in the city.
Devin and Cynthia first started out in Venice before venturing to Murano. In order to reach the small Italian island, the two had to ride a taxi boat over. The various canals that made up Murano were bordered by numerous little shops selling glass pieces. Though Venice had more glass jewelry, Murano shared with Devin and Cynthia its share of incredible jewelry as well as beads and vases.
They met the Meretti family who make Murano glass, including the shop keeper and master glass maker. Devin and Cynthia got to tour the family’s museum which included a peek inside their hot shop, but then received a special glimpse at their personal gallery. Inside this gallery were tall chandeliers, intricate vases and delicate figurines all handmade from glass. It’s a 25-year commitment, they found out, to become a master artist. You must go through an apprenticeship and have the creative drive to be successful. This commitment is getting harder and harder to find in the new generations, making the Murano glass even more unique. You can tell if a Murano glass piece is real by spotting the master’s mark. Each master leaves a special mark on the surface.
Devin and Cynthia, and all of us at Artbeads, want our customers to know how much we care about providing them with quality products. We love knowing that there’s a story behind each bead we sell, and we enjoy telling you its adventure so far. The journey of a bead is never really complete until it’s wrapped up in purple tissue paper, delivered to a doorstep and strung onto a design.