What is Murano Glass and What’s so Special About it?

Crystal palace chandelier
Crystal palace chandelier

Many people have heard the name of Murano, often associated with something Italian, stylish and old. But do you really know what is Murano glass? And do you know what’s so special about it?

Read on as we present you some facts and history surrounding this magical timeless piece of art and craft.

Into the Light

Chandeliers, that is, multi-limbed lights that hang from the ceiling, can provide an exquisite lightning for every environment.

Chandeliers received the shape in which we know them at the end of the seventeenth century. Therefore, two hundred years before the invention of Thomas Edison’s first marketable incandescent lamp in 1879.

They were once considered as one of the most important civilizing steps of mankind, the triumph of man over darkness.

A Memory of Light

Initially used as a candle holder, a source of light that evolved from animal tallow and beeswax to paraffin, the chandeliers were custom made, majestic pieces of metal or quartz, which illuminated the nobles’ immense dining tables.

Beginning in 1676, they became more accessible when English master George Ravenscroft, after adding lead oxide to glass, created a crystalline, quartz-like, highly refracting, more easily manipulated material.

The new material was soon widely adopted for the production of chandeliers in Murano. Many of which can be obtained directly from MuranoDirect.com, both as a homage and worthy heir to the first chandeliers initially manufactured there.

What is Murano glass?? Murano glass is technique, history and location
What is Murano glass?? Murano glass is technique, history and location

The Glassblower of Murano

Starting in the 1940s, Barovier & Toso were the first to bring back the opulence of classic Murano chandeliers with more modern designs, also influenced by Art Noveau and other art, design and decorative art trends of the time.

But Barovier’s history does not actually started in the 1940s, instead, it has been manufacturing specialty glass for over 700 years, since 1295, year when the house was founded.

Contrary to what many think, Murano is not a glass brand, but the name of an archipelago of seven islands, joined by bridges, 1 km away from Venice, on the Adriatic Sea.

my friend the Murano glassmaster
my friend the Murano glassmaster

It’s widely known that in 1291 the city’s mayor forced local glassmakers, already famous throughout Europe, to move to the islands to avoid fires in what was then an urban center built mostly of wooden buildings, and thus protect the secrets of glass art.

This situation achieved both advancements in their chandelier and glass making manufacturing, as well as more secrecy which in turned was monopolized in order to increase profits.

Important and old names of master glassmakers subsist in place, such as Seguso, Venini, Barovier & Toso, Cenedese, Mazzegga etc.

Soon, the best and more renowned glassmakers began obtaining noble titles and building small fortunes which had the dance elbow to elbow with both local and foreign royalty.

As it usually happens in poorly regulated industries, these glassmaking houses began over profiting and over charging for their art.

While this ensured top quality in their craft, it also ensured many new comers would not be able to learn or equally profit from their avant-garde skill.

So, several glass maker apprentices soon fled to the UK and other remote places and started building their own glass making houses. While at the same time taking some of the Murano secrecy with them.

What is Murano Glass?

Murano glass is one part technique, one part location and one part history.

While most people think of Murano as a brand, it actually has more similarities with champagne.

Champagne derives it’s name from Champagne, France. The internationally known province in northeast France, immortalized by its sparkling white drink.

For centuries, the Murano name has remained as the top name in luxury glass making.

There have been several efforts from local and regional governments to create a Murano seal that’s given to all glass made in the Island.

Nonetheless, this has turned not very fortunate and has provoked the same alienating mistakes as in the past.

Giving the Murano seal to some glassmakers, while at the same time not being totally able to fully certify the inherited Murano craft.

Anyway, this is it for now. Please read our previous post on Modern trends in Murano chandelier selection.

 

Murano Chandeliers – Magical pieces of luxury and history

For hundreds of years Murano chandeliers have been signs of style and taste, symbolizing both luxury as well as opulence for at least three hundred years. Designers and interior decorators alike realize there is no other symbol of power and opulence as a Murano chandelier.

murano chandeliers

These chandeliers have been decorating palaces and royal houses for centuries. Their unique style and intricate designs is a by product that came when designers and manufacturers started producing the chandeliers for specific customer’s in mind. In much the same way as it has been with major artistic pieces. These objects have thus turned into sought after pieces by rich collectors and artistic organizations. Thus, there have been several efforts by both Murano manufacturers as well as government agents to keep the same manufacturing techniques.

Murano chandelier design schools

There are several schools of design when it comes to Murano chandeliers. Although these schools share some similarities into how they define the Murano products, it should also be acknowledged that most Murano glass chandeliers have a distinctive seal that defines their value. There are several Murano pieces kept in display in Museums, galleries and government offices due to their historical value.

What really creates the Murano value as well as its distinctive looks is the craftsmanship involved on its manufacturing process. Every Murano glass piece is created by hand by highly skilled artisans in the Murano, italy. The magic brought by the artisan’s expertise is reflected on its pieces, shine and colorful glitter, especially when lighted.

Murano glass chandeliers traditionally come in several coloured glasses, following the traditional style after 18th century Murano master Briati. Other simpler forms of Murano glass offer other pattersn, based in their simple colours and styles.

No matter the personal taste of the Murano glass owner, these pieces offer such varied styles and patterns that it’s impossible there won’t be a model that will appeal to anyone who can afford a chandelier.

How to buy Murano chandeliers

For those fortunate ones’ Murano chandeliers make the best personal gift. Some online store of Murano glass chandeliers offer models at affordable prices. The beauty of these chandeliers is not only in how they create a magic atmosphere, but also, from being a classical pattern, they create a style that does not go out of fashion. There are several specialists that offer professional services, tailored to satisfy the needs of Murano glass chandelier owners.

All of these inspiration, history and beauty has created a black market of fake copies as well as cheap products. Thus it is important to truly understand how to buy a Murano glass chandelier. This guide offers a simple way to learn how to identify these magical products. My advice is, if you are going to buy a Murano glass, not only do you need to make sure the vendor is reliable, but also make sure the manufacturer is reliable. I have known most Murano glass manufacturers from my childhood. If you are still not convinced on what type of chandelier you should get, feel free to get back in touch. I’d be more than happy to help you.

From Murano, with love.

Murano Glass video advertising from the 30s

The following videos where provided by Consorzio Promovetro Murano, and it’s official website, MuranoGlass.com. They are exquisite and we really appreciate the efforts that the consortium is carrying for improving the Murano brand, and the glass masters work. This video is from the 30’s and is quite amazing. The narrative brings back so many good memories from back in the day.