Ordinary magic glass (part 2)
The art of the Venetian masters aroused delight and imitation. Legends were made about him. Their works were so amazing that they were considered magical: they seemed to save from poison and disease, it was only necessary to drain the precious goblet of Venetian work. And subtle connoisseurs sometimes bequeathed to put the most valuable objects of colored glass in their tombs, from where archaeologists extracted them. So some of the early Venetian colored glass products painted with colored enamels and gold managed to reach us. Their author is believed to have been Angelo Baroviero (1424–1461). He performed original “scaly” ornaments, including portraits, coats of arms and thematic paintings in the generous pattern. Basically, the work of artists remained anonymous.
The Venetian masters had excellent knowledge of the most difficult skills in making stained glass. In the XIV – XV centuries, azure, emerald, and purple shades were favorite. Later, the palette is enriched by previously unattainable “warm” – golden and raspberry – tones. Glass appeared with colored veins, sparkles, fluffs, similar to natural gems: jasper, agate, aventurine. It was obtained an opaque white, “milk” glass, imitating imported Chinese porcelain. The pinnacle of glassmaker’s achievements is the glorified opal glass, as if permeated with golden blue moonlight. But the object of special pride was, it seemed, completely ordinary – colorless – glass, except perhaps it was unusually fusible, malleable to fire, and therefore hot processed. Products from it could be made subtle, intricate. The remarkable plastic properties of the material made it possible to produce a variety of cups, jugs, vases, bowls.
The most famous type of Venetian glass is loose, freehand, molded glasses and goblets (which are commonly referred to as “leg products”). The bowls of such vessels are simple in shape, thin and smooth, but the leg is generously decorated with glass stucco “wings”, wreaths, garlands of flowers or twisted snakes with the heads of newts, dragons, fantastic birds. And sometimes in the hands of the most skillful glass-makers there appeared outlandish goblets – “ships”.
Experiencing a variety of color changes in the glass, the craftsmen created previously unprecedented methods of decoration, now known as the “Venetian thread”, “Venetian filigree”. White and colored glass sticks were specially welded to the fire-breathing tip of the glass blank in a special way, and the product was colored with surprisingly woven lace. With this method, a pattern was created inside the material itself, and not on the surface of the glass. White and colored threads formed a complex, but always correct and symmetrical composition. In the skillful hands of hereditary artisans, who passed on professional secrets of craftsmanship from generation to generation, the glass obediently accepted the original patterns of cracks – “crackle”, then blossomed with a lush bouquet (“millefiori” pattern – a thousand flowers), then foamed with a mass of bubbles frozen inside, making up patterned “Round dance”.
The technique “Venetian thread” was also fond of Russian masters. It was widely used in many glass factories in Russia. In Soviet times, the venetian thread was brilliantly mastered by the elder of art glass M.S. Vertuzaev, the Leningrad master-blower B. A. Eremin. International recognition was given to the “Neman thread” patterns introduced into the practice of glass-making, created by the Belarusian artist A. F. Fedorkov, and the “Chudov thread” by the master from the Novgorod region G. F. Nikonov.
Techniques of hot processing of glass, developed by the Venetians, have become an obligatory school of mastery today. And the island of Murano remains a kind of “treasure island”, producing many elegant souvenirs that are willingly bought up by numerous tourists.