Venetian glass makers had established a great reputation among beadmakers around 1500 AD. With improved industrial production techniques that allowed them to overcome the dominance of India and Far East Asia, Venetian glass beads used revolutionary glass making techniques for this time.
History of Venetian glass bead production
The foundations for Venetian glass bead production were laid before 1500 AD. All glass production factories where moved to the island of Murano to protect the secrets of the Venetian glass making trade that was sought world wide.
This dominance in the glass making industry brought much fame, with new techniques developed for the highly acclaimed Venetian glass beads. Murano is still a highly respected production site for these beads and other glass products that are produced today.
Venetian glass bead production boomed throughout the Renaissance era, as the demand for luxury goods increased. The 16th century was known as the golden age for Venetian glass. Beadmaking a successful subset of this thriving economy.
By the 18th Century, 44000 pounds of Venetian glass beads were being produced each week and exported around the world. This came to an end following the campaign of Napoleon and the fall of the Republic of Venice.
The Venetian glass bead industry later recovered to see the world dominated by the growth of industry elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Still highly prized and respected today, Venetian glass beads are handmade of the highest quality with an excellent reputation.
Contributions of the Venetian glass bead industry
Venetian glass bead makers invented a new technique involving molds. This simplified the process of creating detailed and intricate beads for mass consumption, while still retaining the hand crafted quality that built their reputation.
They also executed and pioneered many decorative bead production techniques - three of which are detailed below.
Types of Venetian Glass Beads
Glass seed beads created by the Venetian glass bead industry were initially small, opaque and round. They were used to decorate clothing and some necklaces, in addition to hair combs and earrings.
The production of glass seed beads today is dominated by Japanese and Czech distributors. They offer a much larger selection of sizes, colors and cuts than has ever before been available on the market.
Strict laws protected the secret production technique that produced the chevron Venetian glass bead during the Middle Ages.
Also called rosetta or star beads, they involve the fusion of many thin glass rods together to create patterns, most commonly stars.
The Venetian glass beads that use the mosaic technique are similar to the technique that made the millefiori beads. Rods of thin glass are grouped together to create patterns. They are then fused together in high heat and individual beads are formed. Each bead is a slice of the original molten glass.
Millefiori beads take these pieces and melt many of them onto another bead to create a slightly different effect.
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