How are the colors of blown glass Christmas ornaments achieved? Depending upon the look a glassmaker is trying to achieve the techniques and materials will vary (read more on Venetian glassblowing used in Christmas ornaments ). Aquamarine is created through the use of copper and cobalt compounds whereas ruby red uses a gold solution as a coloring agent.
Murrine technique (made by placing a series of small glass rods in a cylindrical metal mold to create an image or a pattern) begins with the layering of colored liquid glass, which is then stretched into long rods called canes. When cold, these canes then sliced in cross-section, which has the layered pattern. The better known term “millefiori” (Italian for thousands of flowers), is a style of murrine that is defined by each layer of molten color being shaped by a mold into a star, then cooled and layered again. When sliced, this type of murrine has many points. Filigree a type of cain working, incalmo, enamel painted, engraving, gold engraving, lattimo, ribbed glass and submersion are just a few of the other techniques a glassmaker can employ.
Sommerso (lit.”submerged” in Italian), or “sunken glasses”, is a form of artistic Murano glass that has layers of contrasting colors- typically two, which are formed by dipping the object in molten glass; the outermost layer, or casing is often clear like many of the blown glass Christmas ornaments today. Sommerso was first formed in Murano during the late thirties, made popular by Seguso d’Arte in the fifties. This process is a popular technique used for vases, and is sometimes used to form sculptures.
Tools, as you can only imagine, were essential in making hand blown glass Christmas ornaments and other fine pieces of art. The Murano artians tools for glassmaking included borselle (tongs or pliers used to hand-form the red hot glass), canna da soffio (blowing pipe), pontello (an iron rod to which the craftsman attaches the object after blowing in order to add final touches), scagno (the glass-masters workbench) and tagianti ( large glass cutting clippers).
Here is an interesting video that shows an artisan creating a glass horse (learn more about Murano in “Christmas ornaments: My trip to Venice”).