- Arts and Design
How Venetian Glass Beads Are Made
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.
See the Unique Earrings I Have Designed - Listed on the Right Hand Side of This Page
All handmade and very cheap
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.
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
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.
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
There is a huge discount, and it would make an ideal present - expensive-looking, but actually fairly cheap
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?
A wound glass bead is formed
by winding molten glass around copper wire heated over a lamp
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!
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.
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
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.
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)
The colors on these Murano glass earings are wonderful - I love the intricate designs
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?
Links to Other websites about Glass - Just stuff to add to your enjoyment
- History of Glass
Interesting information about glass generally
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)