Visiting Murano

Picturesque Murano, Italy
Picturesque Murano, Italy

This summer we had the opportunity to visit Italy. We spent a few days in Rome, toured the Tuscan countryside, and ended our trip in Venice.

For a glass artist, no trip to Italy would be complete without making a pilgrimage to Murano. And so on a beautiful July day, we hopped on one of the passenger boats to make the short journey from the Grand Canal to the island of Murano.

Just off the boat we found a shop with an artist working on-site. The artist was making items that were then sold in the shop, and of course, the intent of the "factory tour" was to eventually route you through the shop in case you were inspired to purchase glass. There were many, many shops in both Venice and Murano selling glass. I soon concluded that the items I could afford I could just as easily make myself (there were many fused platters similar to what I and many artists I know make). The items I loved were the ones I couldn't make myself but also couldn't afford!

In one of the squares in town, stands an impressive piece of work by Simone Cenedese.

Glass Sculpture in the distance.
By Simone Cenedese

Down one of the many cobbled streets on the island, we were lucky enough to stumble across one of the glass masters, Andrea Tagliapietra, hard at work in his hot shop. In the second picture below, Andrea is on the left, with an assistant on the right who is also the person in the bottom photo (I don't know the assistant's name). There was also a third gentlemen helping them. Watching their process was mesmerizing, as they moved methodically from the crucibles, to the torch, to the ovens, and back again, in what seemed to be a well-choreographed, and well-rehearsed, dance.

Andrea Tagliapietra glass artist

Andrea Tagliapietra glass artist

Andrea Tagliapietra glass artist

After my visit to Venice and Murano, as I thought of all the beautiful glass, I tried to decide what I liked about the pieces I was drawn to. I think some of the qualities that intrigued me were translucency, texture, and of course, the play of light on the pieces. I think texture is one of the qualities I am finding myself drawn most to, and I hope to find ways to include more of it into my work.

While I didn't leave Murano and Venice with a piece of "keepsake glass", I did bring home inspiration and ideas for further exploration in my own work. And that, as the cliche' goes, is priceless.

Happy glassing!

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