Fused Murano Pendants – Peek Inside Our Supplier’s Laboratory

Fused Murano Glass Pendants,Murano Glass

One of our favorite Fusion laboratories is pretty much a one-man show. He is young, very precise and very energetic. Fusion is a lot like baking cookies. You cut the dough, you cook the dough and you decorate. Only it takes skill and patience, diamond saws, lost of dust and you best be careful.

GianLuca_Working

The glass arrives from the furnace in Murano in large square sheets, which must be cut into workable pieces. Each piece goes through at least two firings. So if you have ever worked in ceramic, you will have an idea of the process.

Fused Sheets Ready to Cut

Fused Sheets Ready to Cut

These sheets neatly arranged have already been through the first step. They are now ready to cut into shapes and slump if needed. Don’t you love how they are so organized. This is one of the wonderful things about this facility.

Sawing and Sanding are Two Important Steps

Sawing and Sanding are Two Important Steps

Sawing and Sanding are two important, if dirty, dusty steps in getting the perfect pendant. His careful attention to these assure us of great quality Murano Glass Pendants.

Murano Glass Fused Pendants and More Kilns

Murano Glass Fused Pendants and More Kilns

These kilns are used in the first step and you can see some pendants in process on the table. The decorations (colors, millefiori, gold and silver) are done in sandwich style on a base layer of Murano glass. Frit, small pieces of glass, add color as do the millefiori. After this first step the sheets will be ready for cutting and the second step.

Moulds for Plates Ready in the Kiln

Moulds for Plates Ready in the Kiln

With glass we are taking to the melting point so that the small pieces fuse together. This is done as a flat sheet. Here you see a kiln prepared for the 2nd firing, called slumping in English. This firing only heats just before the melting point, staying at this range until the glass relaxes into the shapes. Then it is cooled very slowly, called annealing. Behind you see stacks of moulds for other shapes.

The world of Glass in Murano and Venice requires many different skills and equipment but always at the heart is the beautiful Murano Glass.

You can shop for these hand crafted Murano Glass Pendants on our webstore: VenetianBeadShop

Abate Zanetti in Murano – Technical School

Murano, Murano School of Glass,Abate Zanetti

Abate Zanetti – Glass Gondola – Exhibit circa 2006-7

Murano has converted the Abate Zanetti School of Glass into a technical institute. Abbot Vincenzo Zanetti founded the school in 1826 as a design school for the glass workers of Murano, fought to improve the living and working conditions on the island and pay standards. It continues to offer glass classes attended by blowers and bead makers from around the world with guest instructors from the great Maestri in Murano and other internationally aclaimed glass workers from around the world. In recent years these classes have been attended only by foreign students who can afford the 2-3 weeks intense sessions, away from work. Now the school will be devoted to the young people of Murano along with the profitable business of hosting international artists.

abate_zanetti_furnace

Students attending will be required to study Italian Language and Literature, English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and naturally their will a heavy emphasis on glass blowing classes, practical production classes, manufacturing technogoly and still time for creativity.

Rare Bead Cards on Exhibit at Abate Zanetti

Rare Bead Cards on Exhibit at Abate Zanetti

For those of us who hope younger generations will follow the paths of their family, it is great news. The older generation of glass blowers began apprenticing at the age of 12 or 13. They were the lowest of the lowly in the hierarchy of glass blowers, the one who brought tools and suffered the moods of the Maestro. There was no time for schooling. This was particularly true right after World War II when the furnaces had been abandoned because the men had been sent to war.

Murano Children Learn Fusing

Murano Children Learn Fusing

The generations of the 80s and 90s found few of the children and grandchildren of these wonderful maestri at work in the furnaces, though the names on the fused piece in the picture above pays tribute to family names of many legendary glass blowers. It is hard, hot work. So when the founders whose passion for the furnaces die, the furnaces close.

Martina Semenzato, President of Abate Zanetti says: “This joint institute aims to provide its students all the theoretical and technical expertise to decide whether, once the cycle of studies, continuing with a university course or become actively involved in the world of work and the glass production, relying on in-depth knowledge and solid experience in the furnace, fusing and to lamp working”.

Take a tour of the school through it’s website

Marvin Lipofsky – US Glass Movement Pioneer

Marvin Lipofsky GAS, San Jose CA 2015,Glass Art Society,Tech Museum

Marvin Lipofsky GAS, San Jose CA 2015

Marvin Lipofsky, remains a legend in the US glass movement. His contributions are numerous. He was large burly glass artist known for his irascible temperament, an artist who pushed the theories on glass (and his students) as a medium influenced by his original studies in clay.

The picture is part of our “selfie” a new word for Marvin that we made at the San Jose Glass Art Society Conference in June 2015. He arrived at the party at the Tech Museum with only a hand written name tag. No one dared point this out. His size and reputation preceded him – everywhere.

He was among the first students in the Harvey Littleton‘s emerging US Studio Glass Movement and with the exposure to glass, his focus changed. With his MFA in sculpture, he went on to teach at the University of California Berkeley and in 1967 founded the glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For his full resume you can visit his website

He was one of the early members of the Glass Art Society (G.A.S.) and wore many hats organizing and promoting this world wide association which today has over 2,700 members from 50 countries. He received the Lifetime in 1986 and was on hand in 2015 to see his student Mary White receive this prestigious award. Though classic, Lipofsky, he was still critiquing her work, always pushing his students.

Along the way he has studied and taught in over 50 cities around the world. This video was filmed at the Oakland Museum in California with Lipofsky in his own words.

Lipofsky’s work has been collected by many public institutions worldwide. In the United States his work can be found in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, Oakland, California; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Philadelphia Museum of Art and Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio. Overseas his work is in Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark; Glasmuseum Frauenau (de) (Sammlung Wolfgang Kermer (de)), Germany; Museum Bellrive in Zürich, Switzerland;Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Holland; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan and Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, Japan

To say that his work lives on, is an understatement.

FTC New Rules for Jewelry – What You Need to Know

Gold,Gold Bar,24kt Gold Foil,Precious Metals

As a designer, artist and jewelry maker, it is unlikely you spend a lot of time contemplating the rules laid our by the FTC, Federal Trade Commission, but as persons, partnerships, corporations at every level of the trade who are engages in manufacturing, distributing and the sale of products, you too are subject to these requirements. For the full FTC document for which they seek comments view the FTC Comment Document. Apparently this broad document has been undergoing review since 2012. Note that if you have any comments, they must be submitted by 4 April 2016. You can also review any comments on the FTC Website as they pursue their charter to promote competition and protect and educate consumers.

The new “rules” reflect revisions to existing interpretations of:

  1. Surface application of precious metals (i.e., platings)
  2. Products containing more than one precious metal (Vermeil, Silver and Gold Fill)
  3. Alloys with precious metals below minimum thresholds
  4. Lead-glass-filled stones
  5. Varietals
  6. Cultured Diamonds
  7. Use of the term “gem”
  8. Treatments to pearl products

electro_plating

1.Surface Applications of Precious Metals

Proposal to require a “full” disclosure of the metals in a piece of jewelry, especially when it is an alloy or a plated product. Additionally, to strengthen the durability of surface applications of gold which would basically require at least 22karat gold, rather than the 10 karat which is found in much jewelry on the market. The commission is attempting to make statements based on what consumers may expect regarding the durability of a product. And to require the disclosure of rhodium plating on other precious metals. The jewelry industry uses Rhodium plating to avoid tarnishing of sterling silver.

Gold Plate Colors

Gold Plate Comes in Many Colors

2. Products Containing more than 1 Precious Metal

The proposed new section states it is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the relative quantity of each metal. It asvises that descriptions should list precious metals in the order of their relative weight. So it’s all about wordsmithing so that the consumer is not duped.

New Rules for Jewelry and Precious Metals

3. Alloys with precious metals below minimum thresholds

Requires marketing of products to provide truthful information about the precious metal and avoid giving the impression that lessor quality materials will perform as well as higher quality materials.

4. Lead-Glass-Filled Stones

Proposes more accurate description of stones which have been infused with substantial quantities of lead glass. So if the stone has been infused with lead glass, that must be in the description.

5. Varietals

This provides that certain misleading terms must be discontinued. For example “yellow emerald” can not be used to describe a golden beryl and “green amethyst” cannot be used to describe prasiolite.

6. Cultured Diamonds

Diamonds which are laboratory created must state exactly that, i.e., laboratory-grown, manufactured by, synthetic.

Gemstones Must be Accurately described for treatments

7 Misuse of the word “Gem”

Avoid the misuse of Gem names such as Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, Birthstone or Gemstone.

8 Treatments to Pearl Products

Provide adequate descriptors to disclose treatments, if it is (a) not permanent, (b) has special care requirements (c) has a significant effect on the products value.

In Summary

The changes are aimed at accurate descriptions and names to safeguard the consumer and avoidance of confusing descriptions to products. You just need to label the items you sell honestly and accurately

The final wording is not yet cast, but generally these are the issues. Much of the logic of the FTC is based on what the FTC calls “reasonable expectations” of a customer. Many of their rules are based simply in “Truth in Advertising”, a noble cause, just not an common goal everywhere in the world.

The FTC and it’s rules are aimed at safeguarding the American consumer, but the big question is enforcement in an age where products available in every stores comes from world wide sources where the FTC has no authority.

How to Avoid Problems?

It comes down to knowing and trusting your supplier. It is also why we do not accept returns of Precious Metals findings. We cannot sell resale returns as the testing to verify the metals is too time consuming and expensive.

Take a look at our large selection of Findings.

What do you do with your Broken Beads?

Venetian Beads, Murano Glass Beads, Christmas Tree, Beaded Tree

Beaded Christmas Tree

One of our suppliers in Venice came up with a clever way to use the broken beads for the holiday season, which send me right out to collect a box of broken beads and get started.

Making a Christmas Tree of Broken Beads

Base of Stryofoam

A quick trip to a craft store for the cone and some pins with colored balls on the end got me started. Then is was only the selection of beads, of which we have a large quantity. Let me know if you want to buy some broken beads ;>)

I put the larger beads at the bottom and graduated upwards. Since I absolutely prefer asymmetrical, I never gave a throught to pattern, unlike the one sent to me from Venice. Since I wasn’t going to break any beads to use, I didn’t have as many red as I might have liked.

Venetian Glass Beads Christmas Tree,What to do with Broken Beads

Venetian Bead Christmas Tree

I put a couple of our “hurt” bears along side the tree. They look perfectly happy to be by the tree, even missing an arm. You could use beads that are not broken and just remove them after the holidays. It would be a fun project for the youngsters (as long as they are safe with the pins). If you wanted to leave it as it, then using a glue gun would be your best bet.

Have fun with this! and Happy Holidays from VenetianBeadShop.com

Quantity is really how hard you work – NOT a definition of “Art”.

I have been a member of ISGB (International Society of Glass Beads) for about 15 years and GAS (Glass Art Society) equally as long. So I was a little taken back when I received a pamphlet at the GAS conference here in San Jose, CA (where I spent 3 days volunteering) called “How to Buy Glass Beads – A Shopper’s Guide to Finding Quality Art Glass Beads” which is a real “looking down the nose” at those of us who produce more than 5 beads a week.

OK, so you can see I am not making this up, I just scanned it in so everyone can read – (hopefully not our bead makers who would be terribly offended!)

ISGB_brochure_1

And inside it continues…

ISGB_brochure_1_2

  • The prices of the factory-made beads are often “too good to be true”. We work very hard to keep prices down and deal with not only fluctuations in the Euro but also in precious metals pricing. 
  • Another sign of factory-made beads is quantity – the fact that our bead makers show up every day and make beads is a penalty?
  • Is the work “professionally” displayed (This means 5 beads of in a plate of rice?)
  • Quality and Techniques used for centuries in Murano are not “real” EXCUSE ME? Where do you think ISGB beadmakers learned?
  • Ask the seller to tell you the name of who made bead: Yes, really I am going to reveal my beadmakers whom I have cultivated, spend millions – YES, and 20 years of my life to develop.

PLEASE, the Venetians and Muranese have been doing this since the 800s and before. Recent discoveries in Altino digs have uncovered murrine (millefiori) from the 1st Century AD. Altino was destroyed in 452 AD by Attila forcing its people into the islands we now know as Venice.

American “artists” came along only few years ago. The fact that our wonderful bead makers support themselves, raise families, send their children to college, buy homes (and YES they can make quantity) only adds to their status as artists. Most of the beads these so called “ISGB artist” make have origins in Venetian Beads.

Quantity is really just a matter of how hard you work – NOT a definition of “Art”.

Chevron Beads,Murano Glass Beads,History of Venetian Beads,Murano Glass Beads History

For example the Chevron Bead in the brochure that you see above – no artistic work there, just copycat of Venetian and from even earlier bead makers.The development is absolutely Murano in the late 1400s as documented in The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dublin, the “bible” of beads, ISBN 0-8109-2617-2. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of beads around the world.

History of Beads,Lois Sherr Dubin,Venetian Beads History

The History of Beads!

Among my bead makers, I count

  • One who owned his own Murano Glass furnace – until his wife making beads became so successful he closed the furnace and now works for her.
  • A maestro who worked at Venini (Murano Glass Furnace) – have you seen their pieces? I dare you to say he is not an artist!
  • One who began as an apprentice in a furnace at 12 years old, and has raised 2 daughters making beads in his home.
  • One who began as an apprentice at 13 in the Seguso Murano Glass Furnace under the famed Archimede Seguso, who was a truly demanding Maestro.
  • One who is a 3rd generation Venetian bead maker – bead cards from his family are in museums around the world.
  • One who learned from her mother, who worked in one of those “factories” and is considered the Queen of the Fiorato bead in Venice and Murano.
  • A maestro in a Murano Glass furnace who invented machines so he could produce blown beads easier (and in quantity) :>)
  • And many more! And I count them all my friends and respect their work!

They will work day and night, weekends to produce the beads we need.

I find it very interesting that any glassblower, Chihuly included, will acknowledge immediately that Murano is the cradle of glass blowing and respects their Maestri. Yet ISGB somehow believes they invented bead making.

Might I remind them that the Doge of Venice gave the right to make beads to the crafts people Venice in a decree in 1291 when the furnaces moved to Murano? And that the “union” of beadmakers in Venice and Murano dates back to 1308 when the State Inquisition organized the beadmakers into a Guild “Arte de’Margariteri” while the ISGB is a mere baby having been formed in 1993.

Incidentally that is the same year we began importing VenetianBeadShop.com began importing beads from Venice and Murano.

History of Beads,Beads TimeLine,,Venetian Beads, Murano Beads

Time Line of Beads from 30,000 BC to Present – Note ISGB a newcomer in 1991!

Here are what our canes look like before they are ground to make either the chevrons or we also use in our Chevron Blown Beads

Effetre Glass Canes for Blowing Beads in Murano

Choosing Canes for Blown Beads

Read Venetian Bead Shop – History of Beads

Read History of Beads; Venetian Trade Beads

(P.S. – Jeff says I can rant on my blog – but not in my newsletters! So consider my ranting done.)

But I am seriously considering NOT renewing my membership!

How To Use a Crimp Tube

Using a crimp tube is an easy way to finish off your beading wire securely. It does take a little practice, but done properly, it also look professional. I prefer to use a wire protector along with the crimp. Be sure you thread the crimp on before you thread the wire through the wire protector and then back through the crimp. I also like to carry the wire through the first bead. As you can see in the instructions below. While it may not be needed for strength, I prefer the finished look.

But How do you crimp the tubes.

How To Use a Crimp Tube

Steps to Use the Crimp Tube

To propertly complete the crimp tube, Continue with these instructions. See the closeup for how the wires should be separated for a strong crimp.

Make Sure the two Wires are Separated as Shown Here

Make Sure the two Wires are Separated as Shown Here

Crimp Tubes, How to Crimp a Tube

Using the crimp tube is a great and easy way to secure your jewelry, but to really finish off your jewelry, we suggest using the Crimp Bead which hides the tube. It appears as just a small silver or gold bead at each end of your jewelry.

Here’s how to add the Crimp Bead. Visit our blog

These small details mean the difference between a classy finish of your jewelry and distinguish your bead work as elegant rather than a hastily crafted piece.

You can fine Crimp Tubes on our Website. We have a variety of sizes and materials to match your designs and the tools you need: SHOP NOW

My goal is to always have the jewelry I make look like it came from Tiffany’s!

 

How To Use a Crimp Cover

Crimping is an easy way to finish off your beading wire to make it secure, however the result in a flat tube which sits next to the ends of your jewelry. Sometimes those little tubes have rough edges which just drive you nuts as they rub against your neck.

So I always add add a Crimp Cover. First it looks better, it appears to be a small 2 or 3mm bead at the end of your string instead of a piece of hardware and second, it eliminates any rough edges that may be left when you crimp and make it smoother to wear.

Here’s how to add the Crimp Bead. It’s basically a little clam shell that you close around the crimp tube.

How_To_Use_Crimp_Cover

You can find our selection of crimp covers online at VenetianBeadShop.

These small details mean the difference between a classy finish of your jewelry and distinguish your beadwork as elegant rather than a hastly crafted piece.

Don’t forget you can find tons of free designs, right on our website in our Design Center, hundreds of ideas to make your own Venetian Glass Jewelry.

VenetianBeadShop Design Center

Check out our Design Center – Free Instructions

Looks Like Tiffany’s – made by ME!

 

What Size Crimp Should I Use in my Venetian Jewelry?

Here’s a question we hear often. Frankly I am guilty of using the wrong size often and then wondering why the wire slipped out of my piece, so it’s also good for us to review the sizing. We made this little chart to help explain why it is important.  If you use a crimp tube which is too large it will not hold the wire tightly and ultimately the crimp could slip and your jewelry break. Using too small crimps will result in an inadequate alignment of the wire and again the necklace or bracelet will break. Crimp Tubes are available both in Gold Fill and Sterling Silver.

Use Crimp Tubes for a Professional Finish

  1. Why use a crimp? Well you need a way to secure beading wire such as our SoftFlex or Beadalon.
  2. What about the sizes of wire?
  3. What Crimp for each size of wire?

Beadalon and SoftFlex recommend the following, note that each one uses slighty different diameters of wire. But it’s easy to see they are not significantly different in size.

Beadalon Wire Size (Inches) Softflex (Inches) Wire in MM Crimp Tube Size MM
0.010 0.010 .25mm 1×1
0.012 .30mm 1×1
0.013 .33mm 1×1 or 2×2
0.014 .356mm 2×2
0.015 .38mm 2×2
0.018 .46mm 2×2
0.019 .483mm 2×2
0.020 .51mm 2×2
0.021 .53mm 2×2
0.024 0.024 .61mm 2×2 or 2×3

Our authentic Murano Glass beads have a nominal hole size of 1mm, so for our smaller 6, 8 and 10mm beads we would use the .014 up to the .019 depending on how heavy the necklace is. For our larger beads 12mm and above, we prefer the .021 and the .024 to hold our chunky Venetian Beads as the glass gets heavy.

Crimping is an easy way to finish off your beading wire. Done properly, it also look professional. I prefer to use a wire protector along with the crimp. Be sure you thread the crimp on before you thread the wire through the wire protector and then back through the crimp. I also like to carry the wire through the first bead.

You can find our selection of Crimp Tubes, Crimp Covers, Wire Protectors and the tools you need on our website: Shop Now

My goal is to always have the jewelry I make look like it came from Tiffany’s!

To Anneal or Not to Anneal – a very good question?

This is a question we get often, especially from new beaders who have just been their first bead show. Are all Venetian Beads are annealed. She had heard that annealing makes the beads stronger. What is annealing?
The word comes from the metallurgy and materials science where it has long been recognized it increases the metals ductility and makes it more workable to heat above its critical temperature and then to cool which also relieves the internal stress of the metal. In glass, it is about mainting the glass at a constant temperature, known as soaking at the annealing point where the glass is too cold to continue working, but will continue to relax, so that the entire piece can gradually cool at the same rate. If the glass were left in the open, you can easily see that the outside would cool faster than the inside. Annealing keeps the temperature constant throughout the bead.
 Murano Glass Furnace Annealing Oven
Above is a  large muffola in a production furnace. Each piece of blown glass is placed in an oven which is temperature controlled to be sure all the glass is the same temperature and then to cool the mouth blown pieces slowly. In older days before temperature control and when they still used wood for the heating, the person who was in charge of this was called “uomo di notte” and his job was to stay all night and watch the process as well as prepare the glass for the next days work.
 Murano Glass Beads Annealing - All in a Days Work
For centuries, the Venetians have annealed by:
1) flash annealed, where the bead is put back into the flame one final time to heat the bead to a consistent temperature and
2) slowly cooled the bead in a container of silica which helps hold the temperature. In older days, the Venetians used the sand from the lagoon which is called “fango” in Italian and was also used for the “bead release”. Today the world uses vermiculite for this process. Vermiculite is a mineral similar to mica which is fire proof.
Flash Annealing Venetian Glass Beads

Flash Annealing

 The stresses set up in the bead have a lot to do with the amount of time it takes to make the bead, the decorations, etc and frankly the skill level of the bead maker. In our small beads, they are made rather quickly and there is very little value of annealing other than by use of the vermiculite. You can see the beads still on the mandrels and they are submerged into the vermiculite during the production day.
Venetian Beads Ready to Anneal
For our larger, obviously more complex beads we do use an annealing oven – called a muffola in Italian. For our Moretti glass, the annealing temperature is about 940F and it is important to keep them at this level and then bring down gradually. For our blown beads they are all annealed, here you see the small kiln beside the furnace.
Blown Beads Murano,Murano Glass

Annealing Blown Beads

Annealing does not make the bead stronger, it insures that there are no stresses set up in the bead during the cooling cycle. Tempering makes the glass stronger – which is the process used for car windows, shatter-proof glass, etc. Below is a type of annealing oven, a kiln produced in the US specifically for beads, note that it has a place for individual beads. (We do not use one like this as we make many more beads than this would accommodate.)

 Annealing Oven for Beads
Regardless of how beads are annealed, each of our beads are annealed, most in the classic Venetian method. And below you see a tray of Venetian Beads ready to make jewelry.
Venetian Beads ready to make Jewelry

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