Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 2006 News

A Day in Murano

Many of you ask about how we buy the beads, do we go to a huge market where we shop like a supermarket, going up and down rows of beads? How do we know what to buy? So I thought I'd take you on a work day in Murano.

We have spent many years developing our bead sources and many of our beadmakers work in their homes (cottage industry) or small laboratories. They produce some of our highest quality beads. Over the years, they have also become our dear friends and meetings to discuss beads are like family gatherings where we first discuss children and grandchildren and of course show our latest pictures. We are able to supply the volume because we have a large number of different families and small companies who make our beads. Many of our beadmakers speak no English, requiring us to speak Italian and also some of the local dialects.

All beads are made for us after we order them. We must decide what colors, shapes and sizes we want, with production ranging from a few days to months. We discuss color and shading possibilities, availability of glass canes, problems with quality of canes today and lament the fact that today the price of the gas used in the torches has increased, that the cost of the rubino canes are now outrageous, that we can't get good strong blacks. We discuss the merits of annealing ovens and the use of bead release for special projects. And I always walk away with a bit more knowledge, a bit more history and an even greater appreciation of the art of beadmaking and the artists who make the beads.

Venetian Beads or Murano Beads - that's the question

While we refer to the beads as Venetian Beads, they all began with the glass canes produced in Murano by the Effetre Moretti company. Recently a new factory was established on the mainland which also produces the soda lime glass (soft glass) used in beadmaking.

When all the glass furnaces were moved to Murano in 1291 AD. It was declared that no furnaces exist in Venice, but the Doges wisely wrote in the declaration that the lampworkers in Venice could purchase the canes and continue their beadwork in Venice and forever saved the "Venetian Bead".

More About Murano

One of my favorite spots on the island is the S. Pietro Martire (chiesa) on the Fondamenta Vetrai. Founded in 1348, this small church houses artwork by two important Italian artists, Tintoretto and Bellini. At one time on the small islands of Murano, there were 17 churches and 4 separate parishes. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the population of Murano was about 30,000 and was a vacation spot for the wealthy Venetians who built palaces in Murano. Today, the population is just over 5,000.

Murano was an independent municipality with a governing body and even coined its own money at one time. The symbol of Murano was the rooster, still visible today in family crests and artwork. Murano was annexed into the city of Venice in the 1920s, a decision very unpopular with the Muranese who relished their independence.

This is from our March 2006 newsletter. If you'd like to read the newsletter and see the pictures from Venice and Murano, just follow this link: March 2006 Venetian Bead Shop Newsletter

Happy Beading, Brenda

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