What is Murrine?

Millefiori glass, (Italian: “thousand flowers”), is a type of mosaic glassware characterized by a flower-like pattern. It is produced by first heating a bundle of thin glass rods of different colors until the rods fuse together. The bundle is pulled thin, cooled, and sliced into cross sections to produce small disks with flower-like designs. These disks are applied to hot blown glassware such as a vase or bowl, which is then reheated and blown a second time. The resulting product is a brilliantly colored piece of glassware with an intricate, fade-resistant ornamental design.

The technique of millefiori glassmaking was invented by the ancient Egyptians and known to be used by Alexandrian craftsmen in the 2nd century BC. It was then developed by the Romans in the 1st century BC and revived and refined by Venetian glassmakers in the 15th century. Since the mid-19th century, the technique has been used to make paperweights, beads, and gaming marbles. Murrina (plural murrine) indicate colored patterns or images made in a glass cane (long rods of glass) that are revealed when cut in cross-sections.

Vincenzo Zanetti

The term murrina, derives from Murrino, which is a name given in 1878 by Vincenzo Zanetti, a Muranese priest and historian, who founded the Murano Glass Museum in 1861. His intent was to restore the intrigue of Muranese glassmaking and relaunch the industry that was going through a deep crisis: he used this term to define vases and bowls created by the ancient Romans using a mosaic of glass tiles. These tiles were made with sections of the glass rods that features – inside them – abstract or even figurative designs such as faces, animals and flowers.

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