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MURANO GLASS GLOSSARY - Traditional terms of glass working process

Murano Glass Vases

AVVENTURINA O VENTURINA O STELLARIA: "aventurine", also called "stellaria" in Venice for its resemblance to a starry sky, is a type of glass which incorporates shining fragments, which are tiny copper crystals that precipitate during the cooling process. Its unusual name comes from its very complex and difficult manufacturing process, which is oftentimes a true "adventure". Example products: Necklaces

 

Original Murano Glass

 

 

BALLOTTON: a metal die mould with small square pyramid spikes on the inside surface, which give a typical decorative pattern to glass with a criss-crossed surface. By covering the surface with a layer of "sommerso" glass, the "bullicante" effect is obtained, in which hundreds of minute air bubbles are trapped between the glass layers. Example products: Classic vases

 

BATTUTO: type of glass finish in which the surface is ground with a grinding wheel, in order to create a series of small indentations that mimic the appearance of wrought iron. Example products: Modern vases

 

BOLO: first mass of molten glass which is picked up from the melting pot with the blow-pipe, which will become the final product after blowing and shaping.

 

BORSELLA: a traditional pair of metal tongs, in different shapes according to the specific modelling technique used to shape, cut and decorate molten glass. It is also the symbol used in the Vetro Artistico® Murano trademark.

 

BRONZIN: iron slab, which used to be made of marble or bronze, on which the glassmaker rolls the initial blob of molten glass to give it a cylindrical or pear-shaped appearance. This stage is also called "marmorizar".


Murano Glass Goblets

CALCEDONIO: type of decorative opaque glass obtained by adding to the initial mixture a variety of metallic oxides to imitate natural semiprecious stones, such as agate, chalcedony, onyx, malachite, lapislazzuli. From ancient Muranese documents, the first historical mention of "calcedonio" dates back to 1460. Example products: Abstract sculptures

 

CANNA DA SOFFIO: long hollow iron tube, slightly flared at one end, also called blow-pipe. It is used to pick up molten glass from the melting-pot, to blow hollow objects, and to assist in shaping objects free-hand or in moulds. Example products: Chandeliers

 

CANNA DI VETRO: glass cane or "stick" of various thickness; monochrome or multicoloured, if it is composed of several layers it is cut into small sections and used to produce hot-worked mosaic or "murrino" glass. It is also used to create filigree and "conterie" beads. Example products: Classic bowls

 

CANNA MILLEFIORI: glass cane composed of many layers of different colours, which are arranged in such a way that its cross-section displays a decorative pattern along the entire length of the cane. Example products: Traditional goti

 

CANNA PER CONTERIE: long, thin glass cane, either solid or hollow. The hollow variety is commonly sliced to produce beads; the solid one, which used to be the only one in existence until the end of the 15th century, is used for lamp-work bead making. Example products: Luxury jewellery

 

CONTERIE O PERLE:  the term probably derives from the Latin "comptus", meaning "ornate", amd describes a wide variety of beads used for necklaces and other ornaments. The larger beads were also called "Paternostri", and the smaller ones "Margarite". Example products: Necklaces

 

COTIZZO (COTISSO): large, irregular chunks of glass, about the size of river stones. "Cotizzo" glass, usually an incomplete byproduct of glass processing, is also obtained by pouring molten glass removed from the melting pots into "conche" (large cylindrical bronze or cast-iron pots), and allowing it to cool and crack.

 

CRISTALLO: clear, colourless sodium glass obtained with purified and specially-treated raw materials. Considered the finest type of Murano glass since the Middle Ages, its composition and manufacturing is substantially different from both Bohemian potassium crystal and English lead crystal. Example products: Classic vases

 

CROGIOLO: melting pot, made of refractory materials, which contains the mix of raw materials during first fusion.


Murano Glass Clowns

FENICIO o “A PIUME”: a type of decorated glass obtained by applying strands of clear or opaque glass on a hot surface, then flattened and stretched with a special tool called "comb" to create a wavy pattern. In use since the 16th century. Example products: Classic vases

 

FILIGRANA: glass pattern obtained by a refined hot-working technique, invented in Murano during the first half of the 16th century, which uses smooth canes with opaque white or coloured strands. If the strands are twisted in a simple spiral, the filigree is called "a retortoli"; if the canes are combined and the strands cross over, the filigree is called "doppia" or "a reticello", as it resembles a fine web. Example products: Luxury goblets

 

FOGLIA D'ORO E D'ARGENTO: very thin square of pure gold or silver, usually in the standard size of 8x8 cm, which is applied and incorporated in glass in its initial processing stages. The metallic leaf can be covered by an additional thin layer of clear glass. If the object is blown, the metal leaf fragments into a fine dust that coats the entire finished product.


Murano Glass Tumblers

GHIACCIO: "ice" in italian; called this way due to its resemblance to cracked ice. This effect is obtained by submerging the hot semi-finished product in cold water, then re-inserted into the oven. In use since the 16th century.


Murano Glass Lovers

INCALMO: Very difficult and complex glassmaking technique, which involves the creation of objects through the hot-welding of two open-sided blown pieces, usually in different colours, along the two edges that must be precisely the same circumference. The finished product therefore features two distinct colour zones.

 

INCISIONE: diamond point engraving was introduced to Murano for the first time in mirror-making halfway through the 16th century, and consists in creating decorative designs on the surface of an object. Engraving with a small wheel of abrasive stone or metal can produce different designs with different depths of incisions. In use since the 17th century. Example products: Drinking glass sets


Murrina Glass

LATTIMO: Type of opaque white glass, which earned its name due to its milky white colours, used for mosaic and enamel up until the 15th century, then also employed for blowing and shaping. It was widely used in imitation of the first porcelain vases brought to Venice from China. The opaque colour was given by mixtures of lead and tin oxides, in modern times replaced by less toxic compounds. Example products: Chandeliers


Murano Glassware Sets

MAESTRO: master glassmaker, the highest-ranking craftsman in the furnace's "piazza", responsible for the correct execution of glass art techniques and coordinator of the entire activity.

 

MORISE: typical Muranese wavy decorative motif applied to the edge of an object, obtained by applying a strand of molten glass with the "borselle da pissegar" (pinching tongs).

 

MOSAICO: decoration used since antiquity, obtained by arranging small pieces of glass or enamel, called tesserae, in a design on a fresh plaster surface.

 

MOSAICO D'ORO: the preparation of glass mosaic tesserae in Venice has been described in documents dating back to the 15th century. The technique involves applying a thin gold leaf to a glass pane with egg white glue, then pouring a layer of molten glass to seal in the precious metal. The three layers are then pressed onto an iron grid, which creates the single tesserae. Example products: Luxury goblets

 

VETRO A MOSAICO: also called hot-worked mosaic, it is obtained by arranging small fragments of coloured glass in a pattern, and melting them together. In use since the 19th century. Example products: Modern bowls

 

MURRINA: murrino glass is obtained by arranging several pieces of coloured glass in a pattern, then heating the ensemble in the oven where the glass softens and melts together. Example products: Classic bowls

 

MURRINA IN PIANO: if the arrangement of glass cane sections is melted on a flat surface, the result is a single large murrina. For certain objects, hot-moulding is necessary, as well as a cold grinding and polishing phase. This system was retrieved from Roman glassmaking during the 15th century in Murano. Example products: Paperweights

 

MURRINA IN CANNA: thin "conteria" glass canes are bundled together and arranged in a pattern. The bundle is heated and softened, then pulled into a single long cane; its cross-sections depict a miniature version of the initial pattern. This system was invented in Venice towards the mid-19th century. Example products: Pendants


Murano Glass Jewelry

PERLE “A LUME”: obtained by melting a solid glass cane, heated with a small gas flame ("lume"), onto a thin metal rod that is constantly rotated. Different shapes can be made changing the thickness of melted glass, which can also be shaped with dedicated tools. The beads can be decorated with different patterns by applying finer strands of melted glass on the surface. Other types of beads are obtained by slicing a hollow cane into cylinders. The spherical shape is created by placing the heated cylinders in a tumbler filled with sand, coal dust and lime dust. Once tumbled, the rounded beads are separated from the sandy mixture and polished with wheat bran. Example products: Jewellery

 

PIAZZA: in the classic Muranese furnace, this term defines the operative space and the working team that is needed to produce an object, usually about four to eight people. Each team member has a well-defined role, and the working group, headed by the master glassmaker, is independent and capable of creating an entire piece from start to finish.

 

PITTURA A SMALTO: enamel painting, a decorative technique that involves applying a mixture of glass powder and pigments to a glass surface with a paintbrush. The decoration is fixed and made permanent by bringing the object back to 900-1000 °C in the oven.

 

PITTURA A FREDDO: similar in technique to enamel painting, except for the heating step, as it is cold-cured. In use since the 16th century.


murano glass gist

ROSETTA: multicoloured hollow glass cane, composed of several layers of glass in a characteristic decorative pattern, created especially for the production of rosetta beads. Invented in Venice around mid-19th century.

 



SOFFIATURA A BOCCA: mouth blowing, it is the classic technique used to obtain a hollow object. Shaping is done by using the blow-pipe, "borselle" tongs and "tagianti" scissors. Blowing is one of the most revolutionary inventions in glass art, and its discovery dates back to approximately the first century b.c. Example products: Chandeliers

 

SBRUFFO: particular technique which involves a very thin blowing of coloured glass, which is then applied to the surface of various objects. Example products: Classic vases

 

SCANNO O SCAGNO: three-legged stool on which the maestro sits. It is a characteristic feature of Mediterranean glassmaking; in other European traditions, the master works in a standing position (first noted in a document dated 1313).

 

SCAVO: type of ornamental glass with an opaque, rough surface finish, in imitation of antique glass. Its colour is most often grey, but can also have streaks in different colours.

 

SERVENTE: in the hierarchy of the art glass "piazza", he is the maestro's first helper and right-hand assistant. A servente can, over the years, become a maestro himself.

 

SERVENTINO: in the hierarchy of the "piazza", he is the third component, after Maestro and Servente.

 

SOMMERSO: type of glass obtained by immersing the semi-finished glass object in melting pots full of glass of different colours. The finished piece results in several transparent layers in different colours, which can have varying thicknesses. In use since the 20th century. Example products: Modern vases

 

TAGIANTI: specialized scissors of various shapes, used during manufacturing to cut off excess glass while it is still hot and malleable.


murano glass chandeliers

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