Italian glass art
The Italian island of Murano is renowned for its historic glass factories, which have prospered in the face of events including World War 2 and the more recent economic downturn. The island is home to iconic and highly reputable brands including Venini, De Biasi and Salviati to name but a few.
The glass manufacturers of the island have won global respect and are synonymous with innovation. One problem the industry has been facing over recent years is the shrinking of the industry as well as the commercial success of poorer quality imitations from Eastern Europe and Asia. The fact that many consumers are unable to tell the difference between genuine Italian glass and inferior reproductions has also hit the industry hard. It’s said that the number of glassmakers in Murano has fallen from over 6000 to less than 1000 over the last quarter of a century.
How the glass is made: Italian glass art usually begins its life as grains of sand as the glass is usually made from 70% silica sand, with the remainder being made up of “fluxes” and “stabilisers”. Flux material ensures that the glass can be melted at a lower temperature so it can be hand-worked and given its smooth, bubble-free composition, whilst the stabiliser ensures the glass doesn’t become soluble in water. Murano glass normally contains sodium oxide, which is used as a flux material and slows down the solidification process so the glass can be shaped by hand. Sodium, nitrate and arsenic are used to ensure the glass surface is opaque and to destroy bubbles.