Did you know that in 1291 all of the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to the island of Murano? In general, glass is made from melted silica, a main component of sand. The strength, clearness, or color of glass depends on other substances that are added to the silica and how the glass is processed. Grouped together on Murano, the glassmakers were able to collaborate and improve their techniques and glass recipes. Soon Murano had the reputation of making the highest-quality glass in the world. Traders The glassmaking processes and recipes became a closely guarded secret and glassmakers were forbidden from leaving Murano without permission from the government on penalty of death.
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Most of the buildings in Venice were made of wood, so the fires from the glass-making furnaces was a constant danger to the city.
Glass can occur naturally, from volcanos, or be made in furnaces.
The height of glassmaking in Murano was around the 16th century. Traders came from the Spanish Indies, Italy, Spain, Ottoman Empire, and other parts of Europe to trade for Murano glass. Kings and queens, generals, ambassadors, and religious leaders visited and collected Murano glass.
Some of the glass invented in Murano include cristallo, the clearest glass at the time; filigrana, a method of using opaque and clear glass to make a filigree pattern; lattimo, a milky-white opaque glass; and murine or millefiori, a method of arranging colored glass to form patterns like flowers.
If a glassmaker was caught revealing trade secrets, the punishment was death. If a glassmaker left Murano without permission, he would be ordered to return. If they did not return their family would be imprisoned. If the glassmaker still did not return, an assassin was sent out to kill them.
Eventually, glassmakers left Murano and spread their talent throughout Europe.