Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pulling Hard Time in Murano

Ah, Venice. City of mystery, light and spectacle. For our Nick Nourot, however, it is a learning experience on Murano at the Abate Zanotte School of Glass (Scuola Del Vetro.)
Like father, like son, Nick is walking in the footsteps of many Americans who have traveled to Venice to learn the ancient techniques of glass making. Nick is no stranger to either a glass works or the Italian style. He began making glass at the Nourot Studio of his parents when he was nine years old, but this trip he is meeting the glass world of today.
In the past the secrets of Venician glass making were forbidden to be shared outside of the lagoon. Now in the 21st Century, Italian maestri welcome foreign students who wish to learn 'retticello" and some of the other Italian glass making techniques. Many American glass artists try their hand at this, but few produce works of light and airy beauty as the Italians have done for centuries.
Venice is a place of tourists, all looking to touch the magic of a city that was the first center of the Western World. Usually your hotel in Venice will have a"private boat" to ferry you to "a very good" factory on Murano. Most likely the hotel and the glass works are in cohoots so you see a crew making schlock and are taken into the sales room by your equally "private guide" to purchase a pricey and mediocre souvenir. Those in the know take the vaporetto (bus) to the island and look among the shops along the few main "streets" on Murano.
At the Abate Zanotte School of Glass today the teacher of the glass blowing class is Livio Serena. His family has been involved in the art of glass blowing since the 16th century. According to, his family were the inventors of the technique known as "zanfirico". Moretti was the glass house that his father and grandfather worked for, he himself at the age of fourteen worked at the well-known Fratelli Toso Glass Factory. Now he helps others realize their dreams in glass and teaches often at the Abate Zanotte School.

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