In this world of copycats, we are often afraid to post too much data on how our beads are made. Even in Venice, the moment a new bead appears in the windows of the stores in San Marco Square, everyone begins speculating on how they were made and tries to copy. For our blown beads, it’s a fairly difficult process to copy. Even in Murano there are ony a handful of people who try. It requires special equipment and is long process, not rocket science, but it takes time and hard work. And for our suppliers, it means showing up to work every day and making beads. It’s not “artistic” work to them. It’s a craft in which they excel!
So here’s a little “how it’s made” to help you understand just why these beads are expensive and to help you appreciate the workmanship, the talent, imagination and dedication of our bead makers. It all begins with a trip to the Effetre glass factory to select canes. (For bead making, this is like the beginning of every fable “Once upon a time” – all our beads begin with this visit.) Unfortunately they do not allow photography inside the factory, but over the years, I’ve been able to make a few. They make the glass in large furnaces about 250 kilo, 550 lbs at the time, so their vast warehouse with canes everywhere and millefiori and mosaics chopped in large bins and sacks. Like Swarovski, there is a schedule for the production of colors which rotates through the year. Special runs are made, but only if you buy the entire production.
The canes are laid out in rows and put into the kiln to fuse them into a small flat plate. The blowpipe is then rolled over the canes, picking them up to make a tube around the blow pipe. Easier said than done!
The blower uses a small furnace, in the US, called a “glory hole” to continue heating this tube, and then cutting off sections which he then works to create the shape. You can tell, it’s hard work, in the heat. Here he is cutting off a bead.
Below is the step by step to see how our sculpted beads take shape. After the beads are cooled, the last process is cold working, known as molato in Italian (meaning to grind) . Much like the traditional Trade Beads were produced hundreds of years ago, these beads are ground to reveal the underlying colors, creating a unique, labor intensive bead as each layer of colors is ground individually.
From Canes to Beads, Just Add Heat!And here are some other designs in this fabulous bead.
These are truly little works of art, though our bead maker would never consider himself an artist. You can find these all around Venice and San Marco Square in beautiful jewelry.Google