Types of Murano glass and their processing

Types of Murano glass and their processing

When talking about Murano glass, a distinction between different types of Murano glass is needed.

Crystal glass, or Vetro cristallino, is a transparent, clear glass. Its production comes from the purification of raw materials through repeated fusion, dipping the molten glass in water and refusion. This method was invented by Angelo Barovier in the fifteenth century.

Lattimo glass resembles the traditional Chinese porcelain or porcellana contrafacta because of its opaque white color. This gradient is achieved by the addition of fluoride salts into the batch. With time, lattimo started to be used for enamel decorations on gold and silver in goldsmith workshops.

Avventurine is a dark red or brown glass that incorporates shimmering particles, called stelline. Thanks to its star-studded appearance, this type of glass is also famous as pasta stellaria. Those little particles are generated from fused copper during the cooling of the glass paste. This type of glass dates back to the seventeenth century.

Chalcedony glass is a polychromatic, translucid type of glass. Its production consists in melting together different metals of various colors. By doing this, the glass creates a game of colors that gives the appearance of semi-precious stones. The origin of chalcedony glass comes from the sixteenth century. However, this technique was dismissed for many years, and was found again in the nineteenth century.

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Filigrana glass consists of glass with strands of lattimo. This kind of glass can be divided into 3 other types. Firstly, the filigrana a retortoli, in which filaments of lattimo are interwined. Secondly, filigrana a reticello, whose threads form rhombuses and each of them have an air bubble trapped inside. Thirdly, there is filigrana a fili, in which filaments are all straight and parallel or spiral. Filigrana dates back to the sixteenth century. It is also one of the most distinctive types of Murano glass.

Pulegoso glass is a particular type of glass with a rough surface. It can be opaque or semi translucent. Moreover, it contains tiny bubbles inside. To obtain these bubbles, glassmakers add bicarbonate of soda or oil to the fused glass. This process then, releases carbon dioxide. According to the tradition, Napoleon Martinuzzi is the inventor of this technique, in the early 1920s.

Ice glass or ghiaccio is a technique that gives the glass a cracked appearance. To obtain this effect glassmakers immerse for a few seconds hot glass in cold water and back in the furnace. They repeat this process several times until they gain the result they want. This technique was vey useful during the 1900s for producing lamps for the special way they would diffuse the light.

Sommerso glass is one of the latest techniques to be discovered. This style is achieved creating several layers of glass, usually with different colors, inside a single object. This technique gives the illusion of “immersed” colors that lay on top of each other without mixing. To do this, glassmakers unite different layers of glass through heat and repeatedly immerse them in fused colored glass pots. Antonio Da Ross was the inventor of the sommerso glass in the 1930s.

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Bulicante glass is a particular technique that consists in trapping small air bubbles inside the glass, using regular patterns. To create this effect, glassmakers put the fused glass in a studded mould. Then, they cover it with another layer of glass. This process traps the air bubble inside. Like the sommerso, bulicante glass comes from the 1930s. This makes of it one of the latest techniques so far.

Gold or silver leaf glass technique consists in putting a thin metal leaf between two glass layers. For instance, it can be a gold or silver leaf, which are the most used. In addition, the glass layers are normally of clear, transparent glass. Using the blowing glass technique, glassmakers blow the glass leading the leaf to break in small pieces that set over the whole surface of the glass. 

Incalmo is a technique that joins together different parts of a product. Usually, these parts have different colors and/or decorations.

Girasole or sunflower glass has an opaline effect. It changes color shade depending on the light it is exposed to. It is a technique that comes from the sixteenth century. To achieve this effect, glassmakers add lead arsenate crystals to the batch.

Scavo glass shows the dispersion of a powder on the glass surface. When the glass is hot, glassmakers spread powder on it and the result is this blurred effect. One of the most famous user of this technique is Alfredo Barbini in the 1950s.

Fenicio glass is an extremely decorative glass with garland designs. The technique involves wrapping the glass objects with multicolor glass threads and combining them together while they are still hot. After they cool down, the products will have an elegant and modern look. This is a very ancient technique, but it arrived in Murano only in the seventeenth century. 

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