Last night I was part of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Designers by the Bay – a fine jewelry showcase event celebrating its 13th year which was held at Shreve & Co. in San Francisco. www.designersbythebay.com.
Presented each year by the WJA’s Northern California chapter,this showcase is the regions premier fine jewelry event, featuring many exciting new collections from local designers.
I previewed my latest work made with Murano glass, which I purchased this past summer from a small family-owned glass beadmaking factory we found on the island of Murano, located in the laguna just north of Venice, Italy. It was wonderful to work with the beauty and saturated colors of this incredible art form of hand blown glass beads, a technique created in the middle of the last century B.C. We were shown old photos from the 50’s of the glassmaking factories, marvelling at their long and narrow shapes. It was fascinating to hear the glass-blower explain exactly how the glass bead making technique worked. In order to create the tiny glass beads, the process begins with a glass cylinder called the cane, or cana in Italian. First, the cane is heated in the furnace; once molten it is removed from the heat and air is introduced into the cane to hollow the tube. Immediately afterwards, two men (running as fast as they can in opposite directions) stretch the cane aproximately 100 meters long, which they then carefully lay down into a long wooden receiving trough. Another person then cuts the cane into shorter lengths with a diamond saw, 100 at a time (eventually creating many thousands of beads) using calce (lime powder) to keep each piece from closing at the ends of the tubes. Finally, the beads are reheated, rounding the edges of each individual bead creating the smooth finished perline (tiny hollow glass beads).
Their translucency and golden lustre add so much depth and dimension to each piece. It is a rarity quite unlike gemstones found in nature, reflecting the artistic hand in its beauty. I hope to work with Murano glass beads more in the future.