Working with Venetian Beads

Murano Glass Beads,Making Venetian Beads,Lampwork Beads

Making Beads at 2600F

Ever so often we have to remind ourselves that we are working with artisans who work with materials at 2600F in front of fire breathing torches for hours each day. They are not machines, nor robots. Each of beads is a small work of art with all the beauties and “defects” inherent in any product made by hand.

And we do not ask them to make just ONE perfect bead, we ask them to hundreds even thousands. Our largest order for one bead was for a department store and they HAND MADE over 100,000 of just one bead. I am sure they dreamed of these beads at night.

Our bead makers are top of the world in their industry, many counting 5+ generations in this industry with their family names written in the Libro d’Oro of Murano, the book was instituted in 1602, and from 1605 the heads of the Council of Ten granted the title cittadino di Murano to those heads of families born on the island.

They are so good at this they make it look easy, and try so very hard to respond to our every request for beads. If I can describe it, draw it, they can make it. So I try to remember these people know much more about glass than I will ever learn, but I am an eager student!

Bead Reaming - a necessary skill

Bead Reaming – a necessary skill

So if you bead arrives with a less than perfect hole, a bit ragged – enjoy the art. There are a couple of things you can do if this offends your artistic design.

Bead Caps Protect Your Wire and String Materials

Bead Caps Protect Your Wire and String Materials

1) Use a beadcap – then you won’t see it, and it will help protect the stringing material. But of course beadcaps will have slight imperfections, even though they are machine made.

2) Ream the bead to the smoothness that you like.

We use a Dremel, not available in your local hardware store, but available online in many places. Use with a diamond drill bit, like the one you see here. If is lightweight and easy to use. As a caution dip the bead in water continuously so it doesn’t overheat when you use the battery operated dremel, otherwise you will be able to see the marks on the bead.

If you only bead for a hobby, then the hand reamer shown in the insert will be more than sufficient.

For more information on Making Murano Glass Beads, visit our website and informational pages at:

Venetian Bead Shop – How Our Beads are Made

All About Handmade Murano Glass Beads








Pantone Colors Fall Winter 2015-16 with Venetian Glass Beads

Here are some ideas of our authentic Murano Glass Beads and Swarovski Crystals which go with the colors for Fall and Winter.

Fall 2015/Winter 2016 Pantone Colors

In the words of Pantone: “Fall/Winter 2015: An Evolving Color Landscape The season displays an umbrella of accord that weaves earthy neutrals with a range of bold color statements and patterns to reflect a landscape of hope, fun, fantasy and all things natural.”

For links to each of the beads on our website, visit Venetian Bead Shop - Authentic Murano Glass Beads

Lee Eiseman talks Fall 2015 Juxtaposition of color from opposite sides of the spectrum emphasizes poise and confidence on the runway. The Fall 2015 palette is rooted in multi-faceted, androgynous colors that can be worn to portray effortless sophistication across men’s and women’s fashion; it is the first time we are seeing a truly unisex color palette. Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®

Glass Comes to Town – Glass Art Society

The Glass Art Society Conference came to town bringing glass workers (artists) from all over the world. It is a big deal to the students of the Universities, to the patrons of the arts and to the glass workers.

Glass in the Park - San Jose Museum in Background

Glass in the Park – San Jose Museum in Background

San Jose California is in the heart of Silicon Valley where you find people dressed in business suits with briefcases and to go cups of coffee talking about security, coding, startups, venture capital and technology. Meet the artist, in the opening speech by the President of the Glass Art Society (GAS), he admitted that he has does not understand any of the people on the street.

Corning Museum of Glass Mobile Furnace

Corning Museum of Glass Mobile Furnace

Corning Museum (CMOG) had a tractor trailer truck outfitted with a completely portable glass furnace. It parked in Caesar Chavez park and entertained everyone downtown with live demos with artists from around the world and a narrator who explained the process.

Blowing Glass in the Park!

Blowing Glass in the Park!

Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) a non-profit hot shop (they have a furnace) as well as torches for fame working opened their doors to the Museum of Glass (Seattle) for a day of teaching and demos. The highlight of that event was the Museum of Glass team creating a piece of glass drawn by a little girl.

Kids Design Glass

Kids Design Glass

Complete with Costumes, the family watches as the team makes her design

Complete with Costumes, the family watches as the team makes her design

The San Jose Tech Museum opened its doors for a special party with demos and a DJ for dancing.

VIP Party at the Tech Museum

VIP Party at the Tech Museum

A View of Murano Glass Tool Making

Roberto Donà Murano Tool Maker

Tool Selection at Carlo Donà

Roberto Donà created this tool making video in honor of his late father Carlo Donà, his family has been making tools for the furnaces and bead makers of Murano for 90 years. The tools must be strong, created for specific uses in production furnaces on Murano, and must survive the daily use in the furnaces.

Roberto has taken the industry world wide as the lampworking world discovered not only the tools which the Muranese use daily in real production furnaces, but discovered the magnetic personality of Roberto. Charming, ready smile and a generous heart, he has a world wide following of the men and women of lamp working and it’s easy to see why!

But as you can see by this video, it’s hot, it’s bending and shaping steel, but more importantly it’s putting his heart into the tools he shapes. He must understand the glass and what the artist is making. Bravo Roberto! You honor your father!

Designing Beads with our Bead Makers

Beadmaking Murano Glass Beads with Millefiori

Making Millefiori Beads









We enjoy a very privileged friendship with our bead makers in Venice and Murano. Doing business internationally has it risks, there are no “laws” which cover commerce with individuals and small groups. It’s all about relationships and believe me you don’t want to burn one of those bridges in Venice. Venice is a very small place and our industry of handmade, artisan bead makers, is even smaller. Everyone knows everyone and most often they are related families or by marriage.

Color Cards, Cane Selected and Shapes

Designing Beads – Now You Need an Ipad??

We have been working with these wonderful people since 1993 when as neophytes we wandered the streets amid the heat of August, wondering where everyone had gone. During these decades we have encountered every one who makes beads or fuses pendants, and become known through the islands, investing both time and money into developing our suppliers. Some are easier to work with than others; however, the difficult, sometimes produce the most amazing beads!

Those who are willing to work with our ideas, collaborate with us and in turn, take our ideas and turn them into their own are our steadfast suppliers, friends, confidants, and family always welcome in our home for holidays.

Swatches of Fabric, Color Canes Design Ideas

OEM Designs

With our OEM services we design the Murano Glass beads based on specific requirements of the large jewelry manufacturers, usually colors of the Season, patches of leather, fabric and sketches of their jewelry designs and armed with this we go to our bead makers with the requirements and the fun begins.

Choosing Canes at the Effetre Moretti Glass Cane Factory in Murano

Effetre Factory Warehouse

Sometimes we need to go to the Effetre factory in Murano to match canes for specific beads. The factory is not open to the public, but Muranese come there to buy their canes. Even after all these years, we need an escort of a local bead maker to enter into the warehouse and definitely no photography, but occasionally I can sneak a couple of pictures.

Carlo Doná Roberto DonàTool Maker Murano Glass

Carlo Donà Murano Tool Maker

If the shape is new, it requires a trip to Carlo Donà, famed tool maker of Murano whose son Roberto has carried on his father’s tradition of making tools for the furnaces of Murano which is much more prestigious than making tools us lowly bead makers. (Yes in the eyes of the maestro who produce incredible works in the furnace, making beads is not so high on the totem pole!) Roberto can make any tool we need and he has a following around the world both in the furnaces and bead makers who have discovered the quality of the Donà tooling.

Roberto Donà Murano Tool Maker

Tool Selection at Carlo Donà

Then we make our first samples. While our bead makers are every bit the “artist”, we need production quantities, not just one bead. So many times we have to slightly modify the tooling or the design to make it easier to produce without loosing the beauty of our original design. As we always say, “No two are ever exactly alike“! That’s the beauty of hand made beads!

So we go through many stages, measuring the glass it takes, measuring the time it takes to make the bead, measuring the amount of 24kt Gold Foil, White Gold Foil or .925 Sterling Silver Foil. The time is of course the most expensive part of the bead and we can only come to a definitive time after having produced several hundred.

Checking Canes for the Color

How many Colors of Red are there?

And we have to check the colors as different batches result in different colors. Red is our most difficult color and apparently also Effetre’s impossible mission as they tell us they have not changed anything, yet the shade is different each batch of glass. So for large productions we want to be sure to make it from the same batch. A batch of glass is about 250 Kilo (around 500 pounds) and they will not produce a new batch until the old batch, even if it is bruto (ugly) has been sold. We have to wait hoping some international customer will buy the excess as no one in Murano will buy it and then we can try again on the next batch.

At the end of a day where we may have argued over colors, techniques, delivery, designs, soccer teams and politics, there remains the friendship and time for a Brindisi (toast) together. And we enjoy a beautiful sunset looking towards Venice from Murano! And that’s the secret of getting the best beads in all of Murano and Venice.

Beads and Colors Murano Glass Beads

A Day’s Work is Done, Time for a Brindisi!


Murano, Venice, Sunset Venice

Sunset looking from Murano – Not Bad?

Video: Zanfirico Curved Tubes Murano Glass Beads -the Art of Bead Making

Video of Making Venetian Beads, Zanfirico Murano Glass Beads

Making Venetian Beads

Sometimes making Murano beads is like one of those games you play where you try to see the differences between two cartoons. Or “one of these things is not like the other”. We were working on a slightly different version of one of our zanfirico* beads to make it a little more production friendly. Two days of working with our bead makers to make one style of beads and I was still trying to explain that it just doesn’t feel right. That while all the components, zanfirico, 24kt Gold Foil, Base color were all there, it just wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. Not that the beads weren’t beautiful – just not what I had in mind. But sometimes the vision they have of a bead (well actually often) turns out better than my own vision. Watch our video as we work to make this bead.

Making one bead, is one thing, making the hundreds and thousands we need for our VenetianBeadShop customers around the world and keeping them essentially the same – well that’s a more difficult task. The variables are so many: the canes we buy from Effetre (known in the industry as Moretti)** who makes the canes as they have been for  – did something change in their batch? like carpet or fabric, each batch has a specific color and varies from batch to batch, the heat and how the torch is working on any given day, add in the different beadmakers, and their humor. Any small change in this loose chain will result in a different bead.

Murano Glass Production,Effetre Moretti Cane Maker Murano Italy

Moretti Producing Glass in Murano – Not an Exact Science!

Sometimes I envy Swarovski® who makes everything by machine and I am sure precision in their recipe for glass colors that equals rocket science!

But then they don’t get to share any creative ideas! Venetian Beads will never be exactly the same – it’s not a science, it’s an art! And our beadmakers the artists!

*Zanfirico and Reticello are high quality products, belonging to the filigree family and they a difficult manufacturing tasks. Zanfirico consists of lines of opaque glass turned together while pulling the rods creating a spiral then wrapped in a clear cover, while Reticello is so named for the characteristic mesh texture that can be observed inside.

**The processing techniques used by EFFETRE MURANO SRL go back to the XIX century, when Vincenzo Moretti rediscovered the difficult method of the murrine from the Romanesque ages, and created a multitude of coloured glasses and enamels, that’s why Effetre products are known also as Moretti.

Matte Your Own Venetian Beads

Make your own Matte Murano Glass Beads

Before and After

One of our favorite ways to make a piece of Murano Glass Jewelry come alive is to use matte beads which gives you a contrast between our shiny Venetian Beads and the soft glow of the matte beads, a luster which resembles a Mother of Pearl glow. There are couple of ways to achieve this look, sandblasting, tumbling but the quickest, less expensive method is with etchall® a trademarked product sold in Stain Glass shops and some hobby shops.

We do sell some of our beads matted, but since it’s so easy, we think you’ll enjoy doing this in your workshop. It is also a cost saver as you do not need to buy both matte beads and the shiny beads, just buy the shiny and matte as you work.

VenetianBeadShop Tutorial How to Matte Murano Glass Beads

Matte Your Own Glass Beads

To begin with, we use only etchall® Dip ‘n Etch, which you can find on our website in 4 oz bottles. Shop Now

It begins as a clear liquid but with use it turns dark as you can see in our bottle here as well. The color does not affect the ability to etch the glass.

For our Murano Glass (COE 104) it takes between 15 and 25 minutes to obtain that soft luste. Other types of glass you will need to experiment to find the optimal time.

VenetianBeadShop mattes Murano Glass Beads for our Venetian Glass Jewelry

The Process

We work with a much larger bottle of the liquid and pour into a small plastic (because it does not etch plastic) water bottle so that we can agitate easily and watch the process. Then we pour the liquid back into our larger container using a tea strainer to capture the now matte beads.

Rinse the beads thoroughly and allow to air dry.

NOTE: be sure to shake the container every couple of minutes to be sure the coverage is all over the bead. If you do not, you will have small marks where the beads touched, as the touching prevents the liquid from completely covering the bead.

NOTE: Do not use on any of our exterior foil beads as it will etch off the Gold Foil, Silver Foil.

Small Print

We would be remiss if we did not caution you about its use.

  • Do Not allow children to use.
  • Use on: glass, mirror, ceramic, porcelain, marble, or slate.
  • Re-usable: Yes
  • Disposal: Will not harm plumbing. Flush with plenty of water.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands and certainly you do NOT want your jewelry to touch this.
  • Wear protective eye wear to prevent splashes which could damage your eyes
  • With use it will become discolored, but it still works.
  • Temperatures below 65F (18C) may form crystals. If this happens place closed container in warm water for several minutes.
  • Caution: Will etch porcelain sinks and tubs. Neutralize with water and baking soda before disposing in porcelain or ceramic sinks.
  • Consider yourself fairly warned that etching is NOT reversable.

Make Your Own French Ear Wires

Make Your Own Earwires, Great Use of leftover wire. Inexpensive and Easy to Use, Watch Video Beadalon

Make Your Own Earwires!

We just added this quick little tool from Beadalon to make your own ear wires. It’s inexpensive and comes in so handy when you’ve run out of ear wires and just need a couple.

It is also a good way to use the leftover bits of wire you have in your beading box – you only need a couple of inches for each earwire.

You can find the tool on our website at: EarWire Swoop

You can watch the video by Wyatt White, Product Developer, from Beadalon as he shows you how


You can find this tool and many more at our online store at

Black is Back! Great Fashion News for Most of Us

How many Black Shoes do You Have?

How many Black Shoes do You Have?

How many black jackets do you have? Shoes? Pants? Sweaters? If you are like me, your closet has too many of these to count and when you go to the store, you keep looking at more black backets, shoes, purses…..

Well there’s good news. The runways of Milan and Paris were filled with new black high fashion! Seems the fashion houses looked at their best sellers and for once went with logic ignoring the color predictions that have dominated the fashion industry. Designer Alexander Wang’s showing in New York was “defiantly black”. Wang says the retailers were all requesting a black version of his designs. Fashion editors concluded the collection will be a hit….duh they needed to only ask me.

Gracefully even Pantone has endorsed the renegade saying “A perennial favorite, black and white are a classic partnership that continues from strength to strength.  (I’m not exactly sure what this sentence means.)

The S/S 15 fashion runways were dominated by pure white, pitch black, and bold combinations of the two. No surprise perhaps – this mono option is usually present in some form or another for Spring. But we were struck by how this color option dominated both Paris and Milan.

From the Runways

From the Runways

We see both black and white working as solids, but even stronger as equal partners in graphic combinations and micro-patterns, and made young and fresh with a small splash of primary color.

That’s great news as well, that means we can wear our Reds, Blues and Greens along with our all time favorite: Black.

It doesn’t mean we are in mourning, going Gothic, or that we are simply too lazy to color coordinate….

We’re in STYLE! (now I am waiting for Leopard Prints to make a comeback!)

You can find our black authentic #Murano Glass Beads on our website at

Making a Wire Wrapped Chain with Margot Potter

Making wire wraps are a basic skill set for anyone wanting to make jewelry. The benefits of a wire wrap are (1) it’s secure (2) it doesn’t hang on clothing or hair (3) it looks professional! (4) You’ll be so proud you’ll want to make MORE!

So overcome that hesitancy to tackle a new skill. Your jewelry will be all the better for it. It’s perfect for that Rosary you always planned on making.

You’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • 2 Chain Nose Pliers
  • 1 Round Nose Plier
  • 1 Flush Cutter
  • German Style Wire (24 gauge)
  • 8mm Beads
  • 2 Jump Rings
  • 1 Clasp
  • (you can find all the supplies on our website) VenetianBeadShop

We would use our 8mm Venetian Beads of course, but Swarovski would also be good.

The length you want will determine how many beads you need. Assume that a fully completed link with 1 bead and wirewraps on both sides will measure approximately 1-1 1/2 inches. The clasp and jump rings will add about 1 inch.

So watch and learn with Margot Potter of TheImpatientCrafter TM – DIY for the short attention span crowd!

%d bloggers like this: