Close to Venice’s northern shore, Murano is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon famed for its glass making: it’s on this island that Venice’s glass furnaces were all moved to, in order to protect the city from outbreaks of fire, and to keep the secret of their techniques. Indeed, glassmakers’ creativity had not limit and led Europe for centuries, developing many technologies including enamelled glass, crystalline glass, multicolored (millefiori) or even milk glass (lattimo), refining everytime their art.
We’re in February. In the hope to see the show, we leave Venice to be part of the experience of the glassmakers island. We don’t find many tourists with us. The vaporetto left us, for a short travel time, imagining of all the range of Murano’s craftsmanship, which in those days made the notoriety of Venetian glass. As we get off the boat, it doesn’t take much time for us to see how easy finding a glassmaking factory is.
The show begins. From his furnace, the glass blower withdraws a molten material and starts the transformation. The incandescent rough energy becomes delicacy : he spools it on the end of his blowpipe, and flattens it on a thick steel surface. Then, he puffs air through the metallic rod : a ball is shaping.
In its center is a kaleidoscope that gets your head spinning.
Like a real beekeeper, the master blower plays with the glass like it was honey : the molten silica, runny and golden, makes you forget all about the rigid material. In his hands, untameable glass becomes malleable though, designed in a few seconds by his meticulous movements. In a state that lies somewhere between solid and liquid, the glass hesitates over the two different worlds, and then freezes to jail the color pigments for life. The whole process repeats itself several times until his creativity catches the shape of a horse, before it also gallops in the eyes of the tourists.
In his workshop, behind, each creation brings its own fantasy. Glass jars and vases with shimmering reflections, clear or colored fishes, wiry or curved figurines, chandeliers and twisted pieces, sometimes cracked, with filigrees and tiny motifs…
We can almost feel the luxury of Murano and amazes us in a way that these days doesn’t seem that long ago.