Murano glass - what is it and how to distinguish the original?

Murano glass is also known as Venetian glass, named after the historical location of workshops and factories (Venice and the island of Murano). It is considered one of the assets of Italian production and culture, has a long history.

What is murano glass?

The main features of glass products of this type are:

  • purity and transparency of the material;
  • surface smoothness;
  • bright colors, a rich and varied combination of them in one product;
  • attention to detail;
  • the presence of external relief elements (for example, spikes) as a decor, as well as the presence of various ornaments, natural details on the surface, twisted threads, nets - inside the product;
  • egg-shaped jugs with a short neck;
  • thick legs, decorated with decorative elements, high curved handles.

Products where Murano glass is used are: bowls, glasses, vases, dishes, jewelry, mirrors, candlesticks, chandeliers, various decorative figurines.

Advantages of items made from this material:

  • resistance and durability of paints;
  • transparency and thinness of glass;
  • unusual design that does not repeat;
  • handmade items;
  • high decorative properties.

The disadvantages of products are few, they can only be attributed to their fragility and high cost.


Murano glass has a rich history. For the first time, the production of Venetian products was mentioned in the 10th century, until the 13th century it was in its infancy, simple items for home use were produced, the material of which was no different from other creators, and also had no artistic value.

In the 13th century, after the capture of Constantinople, beautiful works of Byzantine glassblowers, masters of the state, as well as recipes for creating masterpieces, came to Venice. At this time, in addition to household items, traditional vessels, bottles, beads and glass beads began to be made. The material becomes transparent due to the high degree of purification of the sand mixture.

Initially, colored glass is used, and craftsmen work on the territory of Venice itself, but later, due to the harmfulness of production and the danger of fire in buildings from stoves, all workers are relocated to the island of Murano. Such removal also contributes to the preservation of the secrets of creating products, which becomes important due to the intensity of the development of the industry in the 13-14th century.

In the 13th-14th centuries they began to create vessels with rich painting, beads and glass beads imitating precious stones, and also decorated with colored threads.

All employees of the island were forbidden to leave its borders, and in order to open their own business, it was necessary to work in this industry and in this territory for many years. Disclosure of secrets and production recipes was punishable by imprisonment or execution, however, the masters and their families had a number of benefits and advantages compared to other residents.

In the 15th-17th centuries. the era of the world domination of Venetian glass began, the richness of colors, shapes and variants of products attracts great attention to the works of Murano masters. During this period, frosted white glass was first obtained, warm shades of its color, options with sparkles, feathers, veins began to be made, and a “crystal” variety was invented, absolutely transparent, clean, with a characteristic brilliance.

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The mirrors of the Murano creators had a thin coating, which had excellent reflective qualities, and their reverse surface was covered with a pattern or carving. Vessels began to take the form of animals, bell towers, flowers and boats. Murano glass chandeliers were also popular, decorated with numerous details (leaves, flowers, rosettes), almost all elements of which were made from the base material, and where this was not possible, covered with it to hide the metal. The works of master glassblowers brought huge profits to the state treasury, were presented as gifts to noble nobles and heads of other states.

In the 17th century the popularity of Italian works fell due to the fashion for Bohemian glass, as well as the subsequent occupation by French troops and the closure of factories. Only in the second half of the 19th century, thanks to A. Salviati, traditional production was revived on the island of Murano, the first factory was opened. At present, there are many workshops on the island, the owners of some have ancient roots and are descendants of dynasties of glassblowers known since the 13th century.

Types of glass

There are a large number of varieties of Murano glass, each of which differs in its composition and technique of creation. The most common types are:

  • Cristallo (from Italian "crystal"). An absolutely transparent, colorless type of glass, highly refracting light and distinguished by a special brilliance, has been known since 1450. The creation technology was invented by A. Bovier, it involves the introduction of special bleaching components, such as manganese, into the glass mixture.
  • Latticinio, Lattimo (in translation means milky). A variety of Murano glass is named after its special color, reminiscent of this food product. The method involves the introduction of tin oxide into the composition of the mixture, discovered in the 15th century. to imitate Chinese porcelain.
  • Color. For the production of colorful products, oxides of non-ferrous metals (iron, cobalt, etc.) are used.
  • Filigrana (translated means filigree). Glass of this type assumes the presence in the transparent main medium of a very thin network of colored or milky stripes woven together and creating a lace effect. Known since the 16th century.
  • Millefiori (from Italian "thousand flowers"). A kind of mosaic-type glass, outwardly the surface resembles a flowering meadow. The first mention of this technique dates back to the 2nd century BC, it was invented in ancient Egypt, borrowed in the 15th century. Murano glassmakers. Initially, long glass rods of the desired color are made, which in cross section have the shape of a letter, flower, star, animal, etc. To do this, the hot glass mass is rolled out, forming a cylinder measuring 15 * 8 cm, placed in special molds, heated and stretched into a longer and thinner structure. Then this figured stick is cut into a large number of parts of the same type. Fragments of different appearance are collected in a metal circle, filling the gaps with transparent glass.
  • Pulegoso (from the Italian puleghe - bubbles). One of the later varieties, appeared in 1928, thanks to N. Martinuzzi. To create this variant, hot glass is dipped in cold water, and then immediately placed in an oven. Due to the temperature shock, bubbles of different diameters appear in the thickness of the material, it seems that the glass has boiled and frozen.
  • Craquele (translated as "covered with cracks"). Also known as "craquelage" or "ice glass". The technique involves immersing a hot material in a very cold liquid, due to which the surface of the product is covered with bizarre cracks.
  • Incalmo. Assumes the presence of several shades that do not flow into each other within the framework of one product. To do this, parts of different tones with the same density and expansion temperature are pre-prepared, they are adjusted in shape to each other until they fit snugly, and then they are again placed in the oven. In the future, the surfaces are bonded and processed.
  • Zanfirico. It involves covering at the last stage with thin milky closely spaced twigs, as a result, a kind of “net” is created.
  • Sommerso. A product made of one type of glass is immersed in a hot composition of another type. For example, a transparent, colorless or colored mass can be placed over the pulegozo. Due to this, the pattern or color of the inner one is clearly visible through the first layer, the thickness of the product becomes more significant.
  • Iridescenza (or iridescence). Iridescent glass of iridescent tone, obtained by coating with vapors of tin, titanium, and other metals during the rotation of the hot mass on the tube. Light is refracted differently in different areas, due to which an iridescent effect is created.
  • Vetro reticello. One of the varieties of filigree. The presence of a thin grid of a shade different from the background is assumed. In the center of each sector there is an air bubble.
  • Enamelled, gilded glass. The workpiece is covered with a layer of enamel, which includes glass chips, colored pigments, metal oxides, and then fired. The view has been known since the 15th century; enamel drawings are found on various topics (triumphal processions, flowers, etc.).
  • agate glass. Also known as marble glass. Assumes the presence of differently colored layers, reminiscent of a gem agate. To create it, selected colored pieces of glass are laid out on a flat surface, a transparent mass is collected on the tube, while blowing, the mass is twisted over fragments of different tones. Then a small portion of milk glass is introduced inside, which acts as a background. When heated, the colored components stretch to form an agate pattern.
  • Aventurine glass. One of the prettiest choices. Exists since the 17th century, developed thanks to the efforts of the Miotti family. Copper is added to the hot glass mixture, which precipitates in the form of crystals upon cooling. As a result, golden shimmering particles are visible in transparent glass, as a rule, on a yellowish-brown background. The value of the product depends on the uniformity of the distribution of crystals and their dimensions.

Production technology

Murano glass production technology has not changed much over the years. To obtain the bulk, fine sand is used, which undergoes additional cleaning. Various metal oxides or pigments for coloring can be added to it. The resulting mass is heated to 1-200 degrees in an oven.

Next, the master takes a special tube with a wooden base at one end to prevent thermal burns of the skin, and a thickening on the other side, which is dipped into a glass mass.

After winding the glass composition from the reverse side, they begin to supply air, blowing into the cavity of the tube, turning it constantly. Glass, filled with air, stretches and takes the desired shape.

Sometimes the surface is covered with threads of a different material, glass chips of different colors, metal vapors, and also rolled on a flat surface or placed in special forms. It is also possible additional heating, dipping in cold water to create special effects. Then the vessel is broken off from the tube and the neck is processed.

To create mirrors, one-piece casting is used, not blown, as well as special rectangular shapes called kuari. A layer of glass of the required thickness is poured onto a thin layer of mirror amalgam, after which the parts are fused together, and the surface is treated.

All voluminous small objects and elements are made using the “a lume” technique. To do this, on an open fire, manually using special tools, the hot glass mass is stretched in the right directions. Details of complex figures are then connected to each other.

How to distinguish the real

Sometimes glass products bought even in the homeland of glass can be fakes.

Their high price creates good ground for scammers from various stores, websites, and other sellers. To distinguish real Murano glass from a fake, follow these tips:

  • always ask for a certificate for the product, genuine copies have them;
  • on the item you need to find an emblem with the words "Vetro Artistico Murano", it can be squeezed out on the bottom of the product, depicted on a label sticker or made in the form of an internal gold plating in the upper zone;
  • it is desirable to feel the surface of the purchase, it should be absolutely smooth, not rough;
  • gold plating should not lag behind or crumble anywhere;
  • you should check the fittings, all locks and fasteners in genuine copies cannot be flimsy and shaky;
  • if several completely or almost identical items are sold, it is most likely a fake, because in manual production, it is difficult to create a complete copy;
  • it is desirable to feel the surface, the glass is always cool;
  • it is worth taking a closer look at the colored elements, the dyes used in the production are very resistant, the surface cannot burn out.

Care of products

To care for fragile products, you should follow a few simple rules:

  • do not wear jewelry when playing sports, cooking, cleaning, dancing, bathing or showering;
  • do not use aggressive cleaning agents that can scratch the surface;
  • store products separately from each other and other jewelry, preferably in special bags or separate boxes with velvet soft walls;
  • wipe the surface of the jewelry with a soft flannel after use;
  • avoid sudden temperature changes.

Real Murano glass, with proper care, will delight the owner with its grace and beauty for a long time.


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