When you mention excellence, the art of glass manufactiring is definetly included. I’ve decided to talk about it today, taking you to the colourful island of Murano, in Venice, to discover Massimiliano Schiavon‘s new furnace.
When I meet him I gather that we’re not talking about recent history. Massimiliano’s family has been designing glass for six generations, but he decided to take his own road about six years ago. “I was alone – he tells me – in a small space of 60 square metres where I had an oven and a muffola (lower temperature oven)”.
A winning choice because in very little time his work turned into a small empire; two shops and a showroom in Murano, one in Venice and a sale point in Portopiccolo, Trieste and a new 3.800 square metre furnace in Murano (in the space of Venini’s old warehouse). The rhythm is pressing and his company now has thirty employees.
I’m surprised, but he likes to point out that “It’s not only my talent, all five glass makers are talented as well as all my staff that works intensely and always with a positive attitude!”
And he’s right. I spent a day with him and it was lovely to see with my own eyes the enthusiasm of such a harmonious team, the passion and dedications for this job and the warmth you feel from the people that work here, as well as from the oven (which reaches 1.300 degrees C°).
Once I get to feel such an environment I want to know more. First I look at the old oven that now is retired; it’s slowly disappearing amongst the red bricks, ready to take some well-deserved rest. From here I walk along a long corridor, reach the back and – crossing a small alley – I reach th new location.
I should describe it as a warehouse believe me, but the word doesn’t describe it properly; Huge windows let in enough light to brighten the entire showroom. It’s thrilling.
And the space is filled with large chandeliers, vases, art pieces, glass busts that look like Arcimboldo’s artwork, tables (in glass) and colourful animals. An enormous room where you can hardly take in all the artwork…how much work goes into this art?
From here I go visit the new oven that I don’t get to see active because they’re still moving from one place to another. I also don’t get to see the glass makers at work. This means I’ll definitely have to return to this paradise.
No, don’t worry, I’ll not dissapoint you. I had them explain exactly how their art is created here. Shall we start? Ready, go!
Everything starts with the colour canes; simple glass sticks bought from the Murano company Effetre. To create the design you’ll need to cut small pieces that are set onto a metal sheet; the result will be a coloured mosaic.
The next step is to put them in the oven at 700 degrees so they soften (they won’t melt completely); an essential step to be able to cover the composition with a layer of transparent glass that will work as a glue.
And then all over again. Back into the over but at a much higher temperature this time, 1300 degrees to be able to melt all the layers together; at this point the glass maker will fold the double layer of glass on his cane to work on it to properly develop the shape.
An artefact, that will have to stay 24 to 48 hours in the muffola, a special oven with a lower temperature (200 degrees C°), to remove the possibility of thermal shock. After this there’s the finishing faze; they cut the pontello (the part that was attached to the cane of the glass master) and smooth the surface. At this point the object is passed through various machines until it’s perfectly smooth.
Yes, I know. You’re wondering what’s so special about this furnace compared to the other 40 that are here in the Laguna. Here’s their secret.
First, all the material is bought in Murano. Second, every Friday they prepare the personalized murrine for their work.
Third, they invented a special glass called avventurina (a crystal transparent paste in which they insert filaments of copper crystal with bright oxidised metal). Fourth, each peace that is created is UNIQUE.
Once I’m here I’m going to have a look at their second showroom too! Two floors of incredible artwork… and when I say incredible, I really mean it. From the bridge built with a Roman technique (no bonding material) that can sustain 80 kilograms and was displayed at the Japanese pavilion of the architecture Biennale, to the foosball table with glass and ivory handles.
And so much more: the table with pebble legs, murrine which portray the most incredible animals, every possible kind of vase and an infinite number of glasses, jugs and even a Harley-Davidson! With Massimiliano ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Presidents, royals, actors and famous and important people (like MissClaire! J) have been here; I only had the opportunity to admire these lovely glass wonders without taking one home. But dreaming is free… one day, maybe, I’ll have my creation signed by Art Team.
If you want to admire these pieces of art, stop by the sail point in Portopiccolo, but don’t miss out on a trip to Murano 😉 a strongly suggest it!
You can book your own tour of the furnace by writing to the following adress firstname.lastname@example.org. They don’t accept groups and believe me, it’s a treat because you get to have Massimiliano all for yourselves!
Well done, this was an incredible experience and a real honour to have met you all 🙂
Ph. Tanja Tuta