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Author Topic: Glassmaking on Murano at the Formia works  (Read 720 times)

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Offline Bernard C

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Glassmaking on Murano at the Formia works
« on: November 06, 2008, 12:17:32 PM »
Glassmaking on Murano

In October 2005 I watched the remarkable and fascinating process of a glass vase being made at the Formia glassworks, Murano, situated close to the south end of the bridge over Murano's Grand Canal.   Three craftsmen were involved.   The glass was decorated with white canes picked up from a bench which were marvered into the surface.   It was then closed off to make a sausage shape and twisted, then a second set of white canes was picked up and marvered in, then part twisted back again, so that the canes formed a white diamond-shaped lattice pattern.   All this took place out of camera range.

Then the partly completed vase was carefully shaped for insertion into the hinged two-part wooden shape mould.   See the following photographs.

Click on any image to enlarge or zoom out



Note the use of pucellas to provide a pivot for the lower end of the blowing iron, as the glassblower was using his left hand to provide the top pivot, and his right hand to spin the blowing iron and the glass inside the mould.   I'm fairly sure that the mould included a base and was not open at the bottom, but I can't be certain.  Also note the steam from the wet mould used as both a lubricant and insulator inside the mould.

Note the typical paraphernalia of a glassmaking workshop, including:-
  • Traditional but fairly modest girlie calendar,
  • Bottled water — thirsty work,
  • A face frigger?

This last photograph is something of a puzzle to me.   A crack is being made to separate the nearly finished vase from the blowing iron.   I would have expected a pontil rod to have been attached to the base of the vase before this, as there is nothing supporting the vase here.   I didn't see what happened next, as I had a problem with the camera, and can only recall seeing the vase being taken off to the annealing lehr on one of those wooden paddles that look like miniatures of those used in pizza / pide ovens.   So what happened?   How was the vase supported?   Skyhooks?   Was the rim fire finished?

Summary

First let me apologise for my photographs, incomplete and, at times, rather shaky.   I am not very good with cameras, especially when hand-held.

... and for my layman's English.   I just don't like using technical terms when I don't properly understand them.   I feel sure that I should have used words like parison there somewhere, with explanation, and I am quite sure that glassmakers don't use a miniature pizza oven paddle!   ... and should I have used canes or rods?   What is the proper name for the mould?

I would welcome corrections from someone with appropriate knowledge.

Does anyone know Formia's names for both the range and shape?

Finally, there are three pieces of equipment that need naming and explaining, not used in making this vase:-
  • The pierced disk with a central rod in the left foreground,
  • The ring of vertical metal plates in the foreground, and
  • The circular metal table on a tripod base in the left background in the last image, better seen if you zoom out on the penultimate image.

Contributions welcome and gratefully received.

Please respect my copyright on this material.

Bernard C.  8)
Happy New Year to All Glass Makers, Historians, Dealers, and Collectors

Text and Images Copyright 200415 Bernard Cavalot

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Offline aa

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Re: Glassmaking on Murano at the Formia works
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2008, 05:03:00 PM »
Finally, there are three pieces of equipment that need naming and explaining, not used in making this vase:-
  • The pierced disk with a central rod in the left foreground,
  • The ring of vertical metal plates in the foreground, and
  • The circular metal table on a tripod base in the left background in the last image, better seen if you zoom out on the penultimate image.

Bernard C.  8)

Not sure about the pierced disk, but the ring of vertical plates is an open dip mould (or optic mould) for creating ribs, and the tripod table looks like a circular marver. Not sure why it is circular, since most marvers are rectangular, but there is no reason it shouldn't be circular.
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Offline Bernard C

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Re: Glassmaking on Murano at the Formia works
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2009, 08:03:17 AM »
Adam — Thanks.   I have just found one more technical term which I had lost.   Pieces like this vase and oil-lamp chimneys, shaped by blowing and spinning in a mould, are apparently termed "turn mould-blown".   Ref. Jackson, WF, p.132, caption to Plate 137.

You can see how easily I lost it!

Plate 139 also distinguishes between free blown (or free-blown, Jackson is not consistent), and turn mould-blown.   How did she know?   Was she told by one of the WF glassblowers?   ... or is it obvious to everyone (except me) that thick chunky pieces are free-blown and thinner pieces are turn mould-blown?

The only aspects of this that are obvious to me is that mould-blowing is much faster than free-blowing, and that turn mould-blowing gives you a consistent shape and size more easily.   Is it possible to look at a finished vase and know for certain whether it was free-blown or turn mould-blown?

Bernard C.  8)
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