Murano glass bowls are among the treasures of Italian craftsmanship. Produced on the Venetian island of Murano, they are known the world over for the originality of their design. Often brilliantly coloured, they display a range of sophisticated glassmaking techniques, from iridescent layers to tiny bits of embedded, coloured glass. Murano glass bowls are highly prized by collectors.
Look for a Murano Label
Murano glass bowls are produced by numerous manufacturers, including Venini, Ferro Murano and La Murrina. All are located on the island of Murano, in the Venetian lagoon. For many years, individual makers identified their pieces with a variety of labels. Labels usually sported the name of the manufacturer together with a phrase indicating that the piece was made in Murano, Venice or Italy. In recent years, authentic producers have banded together to form the Promovetro, a consortium of Murano glassmakers. Promovetro uses a special trademarked label that states "Vetro Artistico Murano."
Murano bowls are works of art glass. Vetro Artistico Murano means "art glass Murano." Individual craftsmen produce unique pieces for various foundries, or glass manufacturers. No two Murano bowls are exactly the same. Identical pieces are mass-manufactured and are not examples of Murano glass. Glass that is made in the Murano style in places such as China and Southeast Asia is not Murano glass, nor are pieces created by artists who claim to have been trained in Murano but who do not practice their craft on the island of Murano.
Shapes and Colors
Fine Murano bowls are available in an astonishing variety of shapes and colours. While presenting an overall bowl-like appearance, Murano glass bowls can sport flaring lips and undulating sides. Bowls might be star-shaped, or polygonal. Colour is almost always a prominent element of design, from brilliantly hued bodies to vivid streaks, flecks and multicoloured patterns. Solidly coloured pieces might be made of fine milky glass called "lattimo." Even pieces with more traditional styling will feature sharp colours and sophisticated technique.
Techniques for decorating Murano glass bowls include ways of inserting different lengths and pieces of glass into the main piece of the bowl. These are generally added while the glass is still molten. In other instances, pieces are attached during the process of glass blowing. Avventuria involves the introduction of tiny metal flecks into the glass. Battuto, or "beaten," creates a pattern of fishlike scales. Corroso results in an etched design on the surface of the glass. And Ghiaccio Ice actually imparts a crackled appearance--the result of hot glass being suddenly submerged in freezing water. Many additional techniques further enliven Murano bowls.
Pre-Owned Murano Glass
The 1950s and 1960s were considered the heyday of Murano glass production. Bowls from this period can be identified in glass textbooks such as "Murano Magic: Complete Guide to Venetian Glass, Its History and Artists" by Carl I. Gable and "Murano Glass (1910-1970) Theme and Variations" by Marc Heiremans. Venini was one of the foremost Murano producers during this period, and its works and history are chronicled in "Venini Glass: 1921-1986" by Anna Venini Diaz de Santillana. Reference works contain photographs and detailed descriptions of pieces and techniques.