Some of the beautiful Effetre glass rods in my inventory

Why is working with Effetre glass rods – handmade in Murano, Italy, important to me?

Short answer: Murano glass has ancient origins; a deep beauty grounded in nature; carries the legacy of generations of glass artisans; and has been an object of desire and item of collection for centuries.

Long answer:


2100bc: evidence of glass bead production in Egypt.


750bc: large-scale glass production of the Roman Empire spreads the desire to wear glass objects of intense beauty far and wide.


The 400’s: the fall of the Roman Empire sends the center of glass industry to Byzantium where they refine the techniques of glass art, meanwhile, the art and production of glass virtually disappears in Medieval Europe – yikes!


The 1200’s: the lost techniques of glass art survive in the Venetian lagoon thanks to artisans that work by small lamp and the local Benedictine monasteries where mosaic tiles and articles of glass are being produced.

The beautiful lagoon sand and the abundant flow of raw minerals (via substantial Venetian trade) allow Venice to produce and innovate exceptionally clear and intensely coloured glass. A perfect example is one of my favourites – the aquamarine, which derives from adding copper and cobalt bits to the mix.


Development of the deep colours and textures of Murano glass is due, in part, to Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant, who convinced craftsmen to create beads that looked like precious stones. Production of glass to look like crystal, amber, rubies, garnets, and cornelian started a movement to develop ever-new colours and forms, unique to Murano. These are the secret “recipes” still used today.


Risk of fire moves the numerous large furnaces for glass manufacture to the near-by island of Murano, while artisans, who work by small lamp making beads, can remain in the city of Venice.


1400’s: Venice and Murano become the world capital of glass art and production as master glassmakers worldwide come to Venice and Murano to share their secrets and techniques. The art of glass from Murano and Venice is now unsurpassed, worldwide.


1650’s: many European centers, by now, produce their own glass, objects, and beads, flooding the market with both imitations and new innovations.


1790’s: the Napoleonic blockade prevents all trade with Venice. Life in Venice and Murano, including its glass industry, is brought to its knees.


1800’s: Fortunately, the glass industry of Venice and Murano has a revival when an enterprising group of glassmakers, inventors, and innovators retrieve the ancient techniques from the fading memory of aging glass masters. They restore the lost techniques of glass making, of filigree and millefiori, and they create murrina.


By now, gas for public lighting is in Venice and the production of glass beads by lamp and by larger production is more efficient and cost effective. Demand, for unique Murano glass beads and objects, increases worldwide. Innovation with new colours, techniques, and increased production, in Murano, follows.


1920’s: the demand for billions of tiny glass beads to adorn women’s fashions and home furnishings supports the employment of hundreds of Venetians in glass production, lampwork, and glass artistry in Venice and Murano.


These days, Venetian and Murano glass artisans, once again, face a challenge as Asian glass beads and objects of lesser value flood their market. In Venice and Murano, over half the glass beads and objects for sale are made from Asian glass, shipped from Asian factories. Please be sure you are supporting Murano glass and Murano artisans:


And, finally – long answer, short – there remains only one factory on the island of Murano making glass – by hand – from the ancient recipes and techniques:


It is called Effetre, and I use it in every bead I make because it: has ancient origins; has a deep beauty grounded in nature; carries the legacy of generations of glass artisans; and has been an object of desire and item of collection for centuries.


bibliography: Giacomo De Carlo; Perle di Vetro Veneziane: Una lunga e affascinante storia (Venetian Glass Beads: A long and fascinating story) 2012

I use all these colours to make this bead


• MacLaren Art Centre Installation


• meditation aid


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