One of the most difficult challenges of going on a vacation is finding the right souvenirs for all of your friends and loved ones. Everyone’s taste varies, as do their interests and hobbies.
If you’ve ever received a gift from a friend that was questionable in its form or function, or if the thought, “Why on Earth would they give this to me?” has ever run through your mind, you know exactly what we mean. Gift-giving and souvenir-giving is a hard skill to master.
However, there is one type of keepsake that everyone can rally behind. Venetian glass is a wonderful memento to remember your trip, as well as a thoughtful gift to bring back home for those important in your life. Take a look at the skill and artistry that go into creating these beautiful pieces of art before you begin planning your next trip to Venice, a city known for its mystery and allure.
Venetian glass is known for being strong, ornate and unparalleled in its splendor. In the 13th century, the artisan secrets for making it were so closely guarded that workers could only leave Murano Island with official permission—and violation of the law was punishable by death. This brings a whole new meaning to the idea of the suffering artist. Fortunately, now the methods for creating it are more widely known, but the tricks for making it continue to be passed from master to apprentice, keeping the traditions of Venetian glass alive but well-guarded (without the crazy laws).
First, fine sand is heated in a furnace to fuse it together; all hand-blown glass begins this way. The sands are mixed in advance and sorted depending on what the end product will be. Sands that will end up becoming crystal, colored glass and other items with varied tones are determined this way. Many “recipes” for the types of glass are set by the individual shops.
The “liquid glass” is heated as high as 1400 degrees Celsius (a scorching 2552 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s stirred to create the desired color and lifted to remove excess air at this phase before being gathered at the far end of the blowpipe. The artists—or glass-blowers—will then blow into the other end to determine the elasticity of the glass. This step is often repeated multiple times before moving onto the next step—the actual creation of the final piece.
Then, the glass is shaped to make the end product, but this includes being crushed, lengthened, cut and pulled. Travelers often marvel at this step up-close when they observe master artists at their craft. Watching glass-blowers has often been compared to juggling as the artists appear to work seamlessly to create vases, wine glasses, lamps and other objects.
The last part is the tempura phase when the fully-shaped work is placed into a furnace to bring its internal temperature down slowly (and to prevent glass from exploding on innocent bystanders). This is the reason custom orders of Venetian glass cannot immediately leave the shop but will be shipped to the buyer at a later date.
Beads, chandeliers and smaller artworks are all admired Venetian glass products. Oftentimes, the type of glass is what makes it extremely valuable, including the filigrana spiraled-style of twisted glass and the lattimo glass, which is milk-colored and enormously popular from its origins in the 15th century to today.
Murano mirrors and picture frames are also well-liked, in addition to paperweights resembling ornate flowers. Basically, if you can think of a style or product made using glass, it can be found in Venice.
Inarguably, the top glass-makers of Venice can be found on Murano island. Located within Venice, it’s a top destination for visitors who can’t wait to witness the wonders of talented artists shaping intricately designed pieces. Purchasing souvenirs on Murano is also the easiest way to prevent buying a cheaply-made forgery work—authentic Venetian glass is plentiful on Murano island, making it the premier place to find souvenirs for your loved ones, as well as keepsakes to remember your trip.
The best way to observe the wonders of glass-making is to travel to the City of Water itself. Venice is known for its myriad of canals, an abundance of bridges and a love for fine art. A voyage to this wonderful city is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime (and the more trips, the better). For your next voyage to Venice, speak with our travel experts about a Monograms package. Monograms takes the difficulty of planning an unforgettable vacation out of your hands for a stress-free experience in Venice.