Thursday, October 28, 2010

Murano Glass, Dichroic Glass, and Foil Art Glass

Recently, I took part in a discussion regarding the differences between Murano glass, Dichroic glass, and Foil glass. Among the opinions put forth in this discussion, were that Murano glass can be identified by its perfection and complete lack of any bubbles, Murano glass is used in glass blowing, and dichroic glass is glass with a specially treated decal paper. Although each of the opinions expressed is essentially true, I thought perhaps an article regarding these beautiful styles of glass.

Murano glass is not necessarily a “brand” or even a ‘style” of glass. Murano glass is glass made on the Venetian island of Murano, Italy. Much like Limoges is china made in Limoges, France. There are many different makers of Murano glass just as there were many different companies making Limoges china. Glassmaking in Murano began possibly during the 9th century, and so prominent were the Murano glassmakers, that by the 14th century they were among the most affluent members of Venetian society.

The master glassmakers of Murano experimented with different forms and styles of glassmaking that are still practiced today, including Smalto (or enameled glass), Aventurine (glass with threads of gold), Millefiori (into which pieces of multi-colored glass rods are incorporated during the manufacture process), Lattimo (a style of milk glass), and more. Most Murano glass is created using the lampworking technique, and there are several well known Murano glassworkers still making this wonderful glass. Venini, Salvati, Barovier & Toso, Seguso and more are still crafting Murano art glass, figurines, bottles, vases, wine stoppers, and a variety of beautiful pieces.

Shown below are examples of Murano glass.

Dichroic glass contains multiple layers of vaporized and fused crystalline metals (such as gold and silver), metal oxides (such as magnesium, aluminum, chromium, and others), and silica, all of which give the glass its dichroic properties. The finished glass work can contain as many 30 to 50 micro-thin layers. In some instances, a protective layer of quartz crystal is also utilized. The number of layers, the metals and oxides used and the thickness are all involved in the creation of the beautiful dichromatic patterns and colors found in dichroic glass.

The primary characteristic of dichroic glass, is that, it reflects a different array of color, depending on the angle of view, as certain wavelengths of light either pass through or are reflected in the glass.

What follows below are examples of dichroic glass.

Foil art glass is essentially glass which contains foil (copper, gold, silver, etc.) which creates designs within the glass. Dichroic copper foil is sometimes used in the creation of foil art glass, so in that sense, some foil art glass is similar to dichroic glass, however, as the method of manufacture is somewhat different between the two styles of glass.

Shown below are examples of foil art glass.

Murano glass makers have also utilized foil in some of their beautiful creations, with fantastic results. Here are two examples, one with silver foil, and one with gold foil.

This does not, however, mean that all foil art glass is Murano glass. If it hasn’t been made by a Murano glassmaker, then it is not Murano glass. Just as dichroic copper foil may be used in foil art glass, does not make foil art glass containing this type of special foil, dichroic glass. By and large, these are three different, although often similar, “styles” of glass. Each one beautiful in its own right, and each one with those who enjoy it. I hope this article is helpful, and if my readers have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them. They are always welcome.

Thanks for reading!

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