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How Venetian Glass Beads Are Made

Updated on March 13, 2015
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I've always loved creativity - in art and craftwork, I can embroider, knit, crochet, make clothes and earrings, paint, draw and decorate

How Venetian Glass or Murano Glass Beads are made, with their beautiful bright colours and intricate designs

These wonderfully vivid beads have been prized since the the 1400's for their distinctive appearance and the particular method used to create them and have even been used as a form of trading currency. I first became interested in how they were made after choosing a varied selection of beads to follow my hobby of designing and crafting earrings myself.

I use all types of beads, including glass, metal, wood and even plastic, but the colours in the Italian glass beads make them stand out, and sometimes they need no further decoration or addition, just the pin to connect them to the silver or gold hooks.


On the left is a photograph of blue Venetian glass bead earrings which I designed and made myself.

I am selling a lot of similar murano glass bead earrings in my Etsy store called Glorious Confusion , in the section labelled Glass Beads

See the Unique Earrings I Have Designed - Listed on the Right Hand Side of This Page

All handmade and very cheap

Mandrel used to manufacture glass beads
Mandrel used to manufacture glass beads

Artisans use a mandrel to manufacture the beads

A Mandrel is a metal rod.




To form the core of the bead, heated glass is wrapped around a thin metal rod. When cooled, the glass contracts, causing the centre to open sufficiently for the bead to slide off the inner rod.

Venetian glass paperweights
Venetian glass paperweights

Later, Venetian Glass beads were used for various decorative art objects

such as Victorian English jewellery




including earrings, necklaces and bracelets and also doorknobs and paperweights, all of which are often seen in antique shops


Image: Wikimedia Commons

millefiore bead
millefiore bead

How Venetian Glass Beads Are Made

Using coloured glass rods heated and then cooled

In the 14th Century, beautiful hand-crafted beads with vivid colours and intricate designs and distinctive floral appearance were used by Venetians as trading currency in Europe and Africa.

In the 1620's, the main Italian glass industry moved to Murano and the beads are now known interchangeably as Murano or Venetian glass. They are also sometimes called fused glass is because of the technique used to apply the coloured glass to the glass core.

To make floral beads

glass artisans first create a series of glass rods comprised of a centre covered with thinner rods around the outside.




The composite rods are heated and stretched until they have the smallest possible diameter.

turquoise flower bead
turquoise flower bead

Floral Beads

Heating and stretching to form a flower design



Looked at from the end, the resulting design resembles a flower. After cooling, the rods are thinly sliced and the slices are then melded into a glass bead to create intricate floral designs of vivid colours.

Beautiful Silver Blue Venetian Glass Heart Earrings - An attractive present for one you love

The colours are heavenly, and the style is easy to fit all sizes

Lova Jewelry “Hearts of Silver” Hand-Blown Venetian Murano Glass Drop Earrings
Lova Jewelry “Hearts of Silver” Hand-Blown Venetian Murano Glass Drop Earrings

There is a huge discount, and it would make an ideal present - expensive-looking, but actually fairly cheap

 
glass beads round striped
glass beads round striped

How Particular Types of Glass Beads are Made:

There are several different kinds of glass beads



Have a look at the ones opposite. I have made earrings with striped glass, but have not got any transparent ones like these ones, which I found during my research - I will have to see if I can find some now, as they are very attractive, aren't they?

 Lampwork beads
Lampwork beads

Lampwork:

A wound glass bead is formed




by winding molten glass around copper wire heated over a lamp

 Mosaic beads
Mosaic beads

Mosaic:

Mosaic beads are composed entirely of colourful fused segments of glass cane,

which is a long drawn rod of glass.

The intricate and detailed work on the beads opposite is breathtaking - what skill!

millefiore beads
millefiore beads

Millefiori:

Layers of colourful glass are fused in cross section and melted onto the surface of a bead.




The resulting surface might look like flowers, faces, an abstract pattern, or even a realistic scene. For instance, two layers of different-colour glass, might be rolled up like a jelly roll, and then sliced.

metal and Swarowski crystal beads
metal and Swarowski crystal beads

Swarovski Crystal:

These are leaded (crystal) glass beads with a very high brilliance




They are called after Daniel Swarovski, born in Bohemia in 1862, who invented a machine to cut glass.

The earrings opposite are made with Swarovski crystal beads and cut-out brass beads - one of my own designs which I am selling on my Etsy website

Chevron beads
Chevron beads

Chevron:

This bead is formed by a drawn-out layered glass block sectioned into beads;




Their ends are cut or ground down to create a zigzag pattern, usually blue with white and red stripes.

.

Blown:




The glass blower blows into a glass tube that has a small piece of molten glass on the end, which is turned over heat until the bead reaches the desired size

Amazon sells quite a lot of Venetian Glass jewelry and also books about Venetian Glass - Take a look at this gorgeous item

If you click on it, you will be transported through to the Amazon website, where you can browse, and maybe you will find a nice present for someone (or for yourself)

925 Sterling Silver Hand Blown Venetian Murano Glass Red Blue Yellow Gold Curve Dangle Earrings
925 Sterling Silver Hand Blown Venetian Murano Glass Red Blue Yellow Gold Curve Dangle Earrings

The colors on these Murano glass earings are wonderful - I love the intricate designs

 
Silver and red Murano bead earrings
Silver and red Murano bead earrings | Source

Take a Poll: Would you give cheap earrings? - Cheap and attractive, that is........the ones in this photo cost only about $8.00

......see how you match up against other pollsters

Do we have prejudices against giving cheap presents to our nearest and dearest, even if they look lovely (the earrings, that is, not your beloved)?

Are you a present snob? Or do you like to buy cheap things that look expensive?


Would you buy jewellery that costs less than a bottle of Baileys, like the ones above?

See results

How Murano Venetian Glass is Made - See the videos on YouTube

Just a few videos to give you an idea of how glass bead making is done

We could even start a discussion (in Italian or Latin, naturally, bearing in mind the subject matter)



Leave your comments here - Can you add more information, or anything about making earrings, or what you think about this article

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    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Such beautiful designs. I love things with bright and vivid colors.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      How awesome! I watched Dale Chihuly make glass objects and it is so fascinating to see how glass items are made. The weaving of colors to make these designs are just awesome! Great Lens Diana!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      I have always been attracted to the cold feel of glass or stone. Guess it is the girl in me. I love gems and other pretty sparkly things lol. Seriously the glass beads are gorgeous and I really enjoyed reading on how they are made.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Adventuretravels: Good idea, I'll add them right now!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from London UK

      I've been to Venice and have watched them make these beautiful beads. Murano glass is famous all over the world. My mum inherited a beautiful pink glass chandelier - it's really beautiful. I have a pair of earrings, I keep them like my treasure -I love them so much, they're large drops of royal blue glass with gold threads in the glass - truly beautiful. This is a really lovely lens. I think there are some videos on youtube you could add to this lens.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      I love the beautiful vivid colors in them.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      I always love your lenses, now I know something about these beautiful Venetian glass beads. Well-done.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @tomoxby: I'd love to do that too

    • profile image

      tomoxby 4 years ago

      I always visit Murano anytime I am in the Venice area. Despite being a little touristy I love visiting the glass shops along the canals.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      I'm a bit confused... you said we can see your artwork on the right of the lense but I don't know which section you meant... the this author recommends section is picked by squidoo while the other recommendation section is about Amazon products...

      I would have liked to see your handcraft...

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I'll have to show these to my friend who makes the most beautiful earrings.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I love Murano, I still have 6 small Venetian glasses for liquor, I bought them in my first visit .. Gee! it was around 30 years ago... From this lens I like the Pheasant Bird. Blessings!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I enjoyed learning more about Venetian Glass Beads. We have two shops in our little town that carry beads and I have seen some beautiful ones.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 4 years ago from US/TN

      These are beautiful beads!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @RadaFrancis LM: Thanks for that!

    • RadaFrancis LM profile image

      RadaFrancis LM 4 years ago

      Great lens! :) I love glass work. Thank you for featuring my lens. *Blessed*

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      Very cool... I have always been fascinated with the process of making these beads. Angel blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Just came upon your site and enjoyed it very much...very informative re Murano beads! Will have to further investigate for my jewelry sales, thanks!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Great lens, with lots of information. I am lenrolling it to my lens on Peyote beadwork.

    • RickBasset profile image

      RickBasset 6 years ago

      Very Well Done! I Love coloured glass and your lens is very informative! Thanks!

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 6 years ago

      Stuning, thumbs up :)

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 6 years ago

      I like Murano very much. Thanks for the lens.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Beautiful beads - it's amazing they can make such intricate patterns on something so small. Lensrolled and blessed by an Angel.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @LoKackl: Thanks for the blessing. Yes, I enjoy my Venetian bead items too - earrings and necklaces

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      I have enjoyed wearing the multi-color Venetian Bead necklace and earrings I bought many years ago at Bailey Banks and Biddle. Thank you for the story of how they are made. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @anonymous: Thank you so much for that!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another wonderful lens, beautifully crafted like the beads. Love the pics. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust/craft

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 7 years ago

      Gorgeous beady lens! Lensrolled to Beads by Janet Coles and Robert Budwig.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      I love all the beads you feature here. Learning to make jewelry has been on my "to do" list for a very long time. The might be just the push I needed!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Beautiful! I like the blown ones best.

      Thanks for sharing

      Lizzy

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      The Venetian beads are beautiful!

    • Prentice Lee profile image

      Prentice Lee 7 years ago from BC

      Very well done. Simple and to the point with very lovely photos!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done; I'm sure you won't forget to go back and change a couple of default titles.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 7 years ago

      These beads are beautiful!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @myraggededge: Yes, I love working with them. :)

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      I love the beads you featured, and thanks to this lens, I now know that the beads I had recently bought on a recent trip abroad are called Millefiori (;

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Beautiful! Love the photos, and that's really interesting that these were used as currency.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      I have some of these - they are gorgeous! Nice lens.