Our beads all take a similar path arriving here to have photography made, get names, assign Product Codes and finally to you.
We begin with the famous Effetre glass canes which are produced on the island of Murano in much the same fashion as hundreds of years ago. The Effetre factory is a secretive place and only a couple of times have I been allowed to have a camera inside. Few people are allowed inside, and I am always with a bead maker when we are selecting canes. Canes are sold in 10 kilo bundles, so locals expect to make a lot of beads! (There are a couple of “retailers” on the island who sell to some of the smaller artisans, at a higher price of course.)
The making of the canes is difficut task, but the real super stars of our beads are our dedicated bead makers who work in constantly staring into the flame, knowing exactly the right moment to wrap the molten glass around the mandrel. It takes a certain feel of the glass, knowing how the glass looks – when it is all glowing red. And did I say, you need to be able to turn the mandrel with one hand in one direction while controlling the flow of the molten glass with the other hand, a little like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.
They work with few tools, certainly not delicate tools, the most important one is simply gravity. The few tools help with the shaping.
When making rounds, you need only gravity and these little forms which they use to center the roundness of the mass of molten glass around the copper mandrel. Easier said than done. Work too long and the glass becomes to hard to move.
The side view of the classic Murano/Venetian glass torch, known as a canello. The small tray to the side of the torch holds fritte, small polverized glass, which will be used to decorate the bead.
When the day is done, and the beads have cooled for several hours, a helper cuts the excess of the soft copper mandrel off and they go into these sieve baskets and are put in the acid machine where the acid eats the copper mandrel from the bead, leaving the holes.
The beads are dried (or not) sometimes our bead makers are rushing and the beads arrive to us still slightly damp.
The last step is equally important, the boat that goes around the island picking up shipments. We need a strong partner who can get the shipments from the islands to the airport in Venice. From there they take varied routes to the US, where we start our part of this journey, making photos, assigning numbers, and finally when you choose them another trip through one of our shipping partners.
Whew, I am a little exhausted just thinking how difficult it is to get a 8mm Gold Foil bead to you!