This is where European traditions of glassmaking started - on the island of Murano, close to Venice at the end of the 13th century. And so seriously were those secrets taken that the glassmakers held, that penalties for divulging them were serious in the extreme. Some workers did escape, though, and they took those secrets to other countries to the north and by the end of the 16th century, most European countries had thriving glass factories. The term 'facon de Venise' applied to glass made in the Venetian style and much of the glass of the 16th and 17th centuries made in many other countries followed this fashion-delicate, intricate and often hard to distinguish from the real thing. This fashion was revived in the 20th century by companies like Fratelli Toso.
This 1960s ribbed vase, possibly by Flavio Poli, shows the technique of 'sommerso' where the glass is formed of
two or more layers. This produces a sculptural effect on mainly heavier pieces.
In this teardrop the four layers can be easily seen. The grey faceted vase has only two but the facets add to the effect.
Four skillfully graduated colours add to the impact of this tall vase by Mandruzzato.
In complete contrast to these bold, dramatic pieces are the more delicate techniques used by companies like Venini. This beautiful 'Fazzoletto' (handkerchief) vase was designed by Fulvio Bianconi for Venini and is one of the most famous 50s shapes. There are many handkerchief vases out there but if you are looking for a Venini one, you must look for the four line acid stamped signature - often very faint- to the base.
Techniques included 'latticino', now often called 'zanfirico' or 'filigrano' where thin glass threads are wrapped around the glass canes as in this delicate vase by Pauly & C, which is available to buy from our Etsy shop.