History of Murano Glass

Michele Zampedri

Art of the glass (page. 4/4)

The basic instruments that are used today for glass work are the same as those found in historic prints. In fact in this print from the latin edition of the Art of Glass Making by Antonio Neri (1668) figure A is indicated as "forfex italis tagliante dicta" (Italian hand cutters), figure C is indicated as "instrumentum italis borsella dictum", figure D is indicated as "borsella da fiori italis qua vitrum vellicando diversi generi flores vel ornamenta efficiunt" (Italian glass flower cutter used to make different ornamental flowers...), instruments which the contemporary masters still use today without modification and which are recognized and called: nippers, borsela and borsea for vases. The most common wood used for the lighting of the furnaces in the beginning was, "gioco forza", Prevalently indigenous wood such as alder and willow. However the Venetian lagoon could not furnish enough wood for the furnaces and requests for wood soon spread to the mainland. In 1285 a law demanded that only "alder" wood be used for combustion even if the word "ontano" indicates generically all burnable wood other than wood used for domestic heating. In fact in documents following the declaration "honarius" the words "lignus sevlaticus" (wild wood) were substituted. Wood was used for combustion up until 1940-50 when the method of combustion was changed to diesel fuel in order to reach the actual point of fusion and then wood was used to maintain the temperature. This system was quickly abandoned with the advent of methane gas which is still used today in the furnaces because it doesn't pollute the atmosphere and permits a fusion every day and offers the possibility of greater production.Many things have changed over the coarse of the centuries. Even so, a common denominator through out the history of glass-making in Murano remains the hand-made production of objects and the traditions that are passed down still today, the fruits of experience of the Glass Masters, or as the Masters say, fruits of the experience of many burns which "le incarna el mestier" marks the trade.

Previous page Main page