We recently had the chance to visit one of the many glass workshops on the small Venetian island of Murano, where we saw a maestro blowing glass. A Bob Dylan album played in the background, while a group of three craftsmen went through a series of time-worn, carefully choreographed steps...
Murano is a small island in the Venetian lagoon, home to over 100 glass workshops. We took a private water taxi to the Cenedese workshop, where we saw the glass-blowing process up close.
The "maestro" is the chief glass blower, although others assist him with all steps of the process. We saw maestro Simone Cenendese in the workshop, where he blows glass each day for 4 to 8 hours. His father, Giovanni, began to teach him glass-making at the age of ten. Now 36, he's worked in the studio for most of his life.
Simone is surrounded by helpers and apprentices. Young people learn to blow using "gotto de ragazzo," Venetian slang for "young people's glass."
Glass is made of 70 percent sand. In this studio, the sand comes from Fontainebleau in France. It's mixed with a refining element (antimonium), pigment, and a melting element.
First the glass is heated in the oven, and an iron rod is used to blow. As the glass is shaped, it's reheated and reworked with wooden and iron tools. When it's ready, a craftsman uses iron clips to cut the glass.
Once the shape is set, the glass is tempered in a cooling tunnel for four to five hours. This sets and strengthens the glass, preventing it from breaking.
After tempering, the glass is sent to the grinding department, where it's measured, refined, and polished.
The glass is used to produce lighting and chandeliers for the Leucos Group. In the showroom, we saw curls of glass draped over one another and linked together like bracelets. Lit from behind, they were gorgeous. Leucos' products are widely distributed in the US, through stores like YLighting, AllModern, and Unica Home.
Photos: Sarah Coffey