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History of Murano Glass Beads

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Murano Italy, a small town north of Venice, has set the world standard for glasswork and beads, including Murano Rosary Beads, making it the glass capital of the world,. Tracing back to the 9th century, Murano glass and beads have a long history. The artwork, innovation and craftsmanship have grown in tradition though the centuries.


Murano was a large port, along with Venice allowing it to use the glass as a trading statpe with its is Asian and African neighbors. One of the earliest uses and stories was about how glass was blown into the shape of bottles dating back as far as 1083 and elevated to the glass capital of the world in the 13th century.


In the 1930s there was a distinctive shift in Murano Glass, lead by Ermanno Toso. He changed the focus of the items made to a more modern theme. Murano glass and the island itself has withstood the test of two world wars, and in the 40s was reinvigorated post World War II, making the 1950s one of the more artistically memorable sets of years. Among the artist techniques employed, glass blowers used the technique called filigrana, where the glass blower takes the glass blowing pipe and roll over the canes of glass each a unique striping for the bead.  Some beads are straight striped, some are spiral and may then be shaped into balls and teardrop shapes. In modern times the glass created though the 1950s is considered one of the most sought after.


In the late 20th century, the problem of counterfeiting Murano Glass entered the market. Asia was making replicas of the glassware, vases and millefiore, a process where buy an image is placed into the glass rod itself and then becoming part of the blown bead, Prior to 1849, it was called mosaic. Millefiori in Murano beads always contain a very distinctive flower pattern.

 In response the Promovetro, or glassmakers consortium, came up with a Murano trademark, a lilac sticker that displays  a cana de soffio or glass blowers pipe and the Italian words, Artistic Glass Murano so that it is difficult to copy. This was registered with the European Union.


In 2003 it was necessary for the city of Venice to once again make a new Trademark designed by the French artist, Mathieu Thibautto. This allowed for Murano glass stay exclusive and making counterfeits lacking in the quality and history that Murano glass beads have come to represent.

This article was published on Sunday 02 September, 2007.

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