Glass Factory, Murano, Italy

Glass Factory, Murano, Italy

Murano glass is glass made on the Venetian island of Murano, which has specialized in fancy glasswares for centuries. Murano’s glassmakers led Europe for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass figurines to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers, as well as tourist souvenirs.

Today, Murano is home to a vast number of factories and a few individual artists’ studios making all manner of glass objects from mass marketed stemware to original sculpture. The Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) in the Palazzo Giustinian houses displays on the history of glassmaking as well as glass samples ranging from Egyptian times through the present day.[1]

Some of Murano’s historical glass factories remain well known brands today, amongst them De Biasi, Gabbiani, Venini, Salviati, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, FerroMurano, Berengo Studio, Seguso, Formia International, Simone Cenedese, Alessandro Mandruzzato, and many others. The oldest glass factory is Antica Vetreria Fratelli Toso, founded in 1854.

Overall, the industry has been shrinking as demand has waned. Imitation works (easily recognizable by experts but not by the common client) from Asia and Eastern Europe take an estimated 40% – 45% of the market for Murano glass, and public tastes have changed while the designs in Murano have largely stayed the same. Due to these factors, as well as the difficult and low-paying nature of the work, the number of professional glassmakers in Murano has decreased from about 6000 in 1990 to less than 1000 today.

In an effort to curb imitations, a collection of companies and concerned individuals in Murano created a trademark to certify authenticity. Today about 50 companies use the Artistic Glass Murano® trademark of origin. The trademark was introduced by and continues to be regulated by Region of Veneto Law no.70 of the 23/12/1994. Factories on the island are not required to apply for the trademark and many choose not to, but if a work carries the trademark, its authenticity is guaranteed.

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