[PA-NJ Glassblowers] Murano, Where Ancient Venetian Glasswork Wonders Take Shape

Tony Patti gaffer at glassblower.info
Wed Feb 3 22:42:28 EST 2016

Can you imagine. 23 generations of glassblowers, going back to the year 1397




Murano, Where Ancient Venetian Glasswork Wonders Take Shape

The Seguso family's passion for glasswork burns brightly, even after 23
generations dedicated to the same painstaking but breathtaking craft.

Federico Taddia (2016-02-01)

Article illustrative image 

Fragile masterpieces

VENICE - Giampaolo Seguso, 73, is equally adept at playing with words as he
is with the sand he uses to blow glass. "Working in the furnace, I
understood the morals of life," says the current chief of the Seguso family
furnace. "In glassblowing you are both creative and a creator, and this
helps you understand the more profound sense of being a living creature."

Seguso the material never ceases to surprise. "What you'll have in your
hands will always go beyond what you expected to make," he says. "Glass is
wonder and fragility ... of existence itself."

As he shapes the glass into transparently colorful works of art, Giampaolo
recounts a story that goes back 600 years. Patiently enthralled, his three
sons - Gianluca, Pierpaolo and Gianandrea - listen to their father tell
their family history. They are respectful and curious, proudly aware of
being in the presence of a witness to the family's 23-generation adventure
in the glassblowing industry, a work of magic that has repeated itself every
day since 1397.

Licks of flame thicken in the hands of silent and timid masters, who
transform them into artworks with a delicate balance between temperature,
gravity and centrifugal forces. Long, shimmering metal rods rotate between
ovens as the artisans blow into them, varying the force of their breath to
tame the molten glass and shape it in their desired image.

>From generation to generation, this ancient dance has been handed down for
centuries on the tiny Venetian island of Murano.
rt-for-the-super-rich/c3s19153/> Located in the Venetian lagoon, Murano
became the world's first industrial district when Doge Pietro Gradenigo
moved the glassblowers to the
-comes-in-cyclones/c25s20263/> island to avoid the risk of starting a fire
in central Venice - and to preserve the secrets of this incredible craft.


Seguso father and sons - Photo:
<http://seguso.com/it/portfolio/seguso-viro/> Seguso

"These are our roots, an immense cultural asset located in the essential
context of Murano," says Gianluca Seguso. "For glass to be beautiful, it
must not only be made in Murano, but made well in Murano. To us this means
having a maniacal dedication to detail, because this is how it should be

Embracing the public

As his father tends to the furnace, giving light to new prototypes and
artworks destined for his private collection, Gianluca and his brothers
discuss their efforts to transform their father's passions and inspirations
into a successful business. "My brothers and I can claim no credit for
establishing what the previous 22 generations put in place. But it is now
our responsibility to leave our mark and
-love-letters-to-a-swedish-baron/c4s20456/> pass our passion onto those who
come after us," says Gianluca.

This generation of Seguso brothers have revolutionized the family business,
opening it to the public so everyone can witness the marvel of glassblowing.
"We don't create glass here, we create emotions that are represented by
glass," he says. "But before we do this we must first become enthralled

>From spectacular chandeliers to decorative tables with transparent feet,
from classic and refined designs to minimalist glasses, the Seguso family's
products - marketed as Seguso Vetri d'Arte, or Seguso artistic glassworks -
are present in the permanent art collections of more than 100 museums
worldwide. They also adorn royal palaces, luxurious residences, theaters,
hotels, and products from luxury brands such as Christian Dior and Fendi.

Building on the ideas of Pierpaolo, the family's creative director, and the
development skills of Gianandrea and Gianluca, the brothers have identified
four central pillars of the family business: integrity, sustainability,
mastery and beauty. "Not just aesthetic beauty, but mainly ethical beauty,"
says Gianluca. "We strive to help customers understand the meaning of
beauty, because training our capacity to be amazed is the only antidote to

Meanwhile, in the furnace, where the ovens rise above 1,000 degrees Celsius,
three different three-person teams are each composed of a master and two
assistants. They are aided by metal pliers and scissors, wooden palettes to
shape the glass, and
kes-up-debate-on-graffiti/c3s20408/> drops of color that trace lines and
curves on the glass like a paintbrush.


Hot stuff - Photo:  <http://seguso.com/it/portfolio/seguso-viro/> Seguso

One of the assistants shows us the black sheet and white chalk, with which
they sketch the initial design that helps the glassblower understand what
image they have in mind. "We draft, correct and revise the design together,
looking for
in-the-power-of-art/c3s20376/> the perfect synthesis of shape and material,"
he explains. "These are things you can't learn from reading any manual. You
must experience them in the workshop making mistakes and trying again, a
slow education that retraces the methods of the Renaissance."

The master and his assistants trade fleeting glances, exchanging words in an
incomprehensible jargon. They trace trajectories they have memorized to
shape incandescent glass balls that change form in an instant, bewitching
you just as you thought you'd understood
th-american-surrealism/c3s20383/> what shape they would become.

"My father was a researcher and studied glassblowing techniques, but I'm an
explorer. I don't care as much about understanding the problem as I do about
being amazed," whispers Giampaolo. "I'm a dreamer. Visionaries suffer but
dreamers do not. This is a crucial distinction."



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