The Centuries-Old Techniques That Remain
Among the techniques Murano artisans have invented or perfected throughout the centuries is millefiori—literally, “1,000 flowers”—in which long rods of viscous colored glass are layered and, once cooled, sliced to give the appearance of a bouquet of varying hues and patterns. Another technique, zanfirico, uses filigrees of colored glass to create brilliant stripes, while sommerso, or “sunken glass,” involves submerging molten glass of one color into a larger form of clear or different-color glass.
Glassmaking didn’t originate on the Venetian island of Murano, but its artisans certainly elevated it to an art form. Murano became a bastion of glassmaking in 1291, when the Venetian Republic ordered its glassmakers to move their “furnaces,” or foundries, to the island. Ostensibly this was done to minimize the risk of a major fire, though some historians contend the real reason was to prevent visitors to the city-state from having easy access to trade secrets.