Murano Glass

A Millennium in the Making

By Steve Jensen

Murano, a small island near Venice, has been an important center for glass for longer than any other place in the world - over one thousand years. Join us on a journey through time as we unveil the secrets and mysteries behind this fascinating medium.

The Venetians were the great merchants of the ancient world, with a vast trade network that stretched from the Mediterranean and through the Middle East to as far as China. Explorers such as Marco Polo were among the first agents of commerce to establish trade with these regions.

With unparalleled ingenuity and creativity, crafts from far away lands were adapted and reinvented by the Venetians into unique commodities. One example of their ingenuity was glass: true to form, the Venetians took this medium, mastered it, and raised the quality and craftsmanship to new levels.

As the glass industry began to flourish, the Doge of Venice removed production to the island of Murano. The industry was relocated not only to safeguard the city from the outbreak of fire (high temperature fires are needed to make glass) but also to protect the secrecy of the techniques being developed.

So important was this knowledge that in 1296 a law was passed forbidding any person initiated into the profession to ever leave Murano. Anyone violating the law was hunted down and brought back - or put to death!

Over time, glass production on the island reached new artistic and technical heights. In the fifteenth century, Venetian master glass blower Angelo Barovier used his knowledge of chemistry to produce 'Cristallo' - a glass that was not only of exceptional quality and clarity but also very light in weight. 'Cristallo' was so special it revolutionized the industry.

From then on, there was no equal to the glass bearing the trademark 'Murano'. Fabulous colors and embellishments created a demand for opulent mirrors, chandeliers and objects d’art sought after by the wealthy and titled all over Europe and beyond. No degree of skill or innovation was spared. A special process of infusing 24 karat gold or silver into glass added more luster and allure to these amazing works.

Today, Murano is struggling through an extremely difficult chapter in its illustrious history. A combination of global economic events and skyrocketing production costs have created serious challenges for this centuries old industry. Sadly, as a result, these truly astounding craftsmen are starting to diminish in numbers.

US born designer Steve Jensen strives to preserve and perpetuate this incredible art form through his exclusive collection of Lamps, Chandeliers, and Accessories.

© 2011 The Steve Jensen Collection.