Murano Magic has been called "the new definitive reference
to Murano." What is different about your approach?
Fundamental to the book, I think, is the conception of Murano and
its glassmakers as a unique multi-generational art colony, a swirling
anthill of artistic and entrepreneurial families with continual
alliances, realliances, reorganizations and metamorphoses.
But how do
you bring order to an anthill? That's where Murano Magic's
organizational system comes into play. First, I trace the
major glass firms from their roots, identifying their name changes,
the evolution of their artists, artisans and technicians.
But then I back off from the firms and turn to the families and
individuals. Murano Magic has hundreds of individual
profiles and dozens of family trees. For example, there are
more than 20 members of the Nason family, more than 50 Tosos; knowing
how they are related to each other is a cornerstone to understanding
Magic relates the broad changes in Murano glass styles to innovations
in the international art markets and to political and economic change.
Of course, the photographs are critical to showing the beauty and
evolution of Murano glass.
Was it a challenge to assemble the photographs?
Yes, I really underestimated the task. Merely assembling 250
photos is relatively easy; the problem is in assembling a representative
variety--not just 250 Veninis and Segusos. But I had wonderful
and patient assistance from many knowledgeable dealers, museums,
Murano glass producers and collectors around the world. As
a result, the illustrations cover a broad spectrum of styles and
techniques, and of designers and glassblowers both famous and obscure.
And Schiffer's book designer did a spectacular job presenting them
What distinguishes Murano glass from glass made elsewhere?
I mean, how can you tell them apart?
As you would expect, there is no single touchstone that separates
Murano glass from glass made elsewhere, or knockoffs and fakes from
genuine original items. The ultimate safeguard is knowledge
and experience. But there are some features that even novices
can be alert to. For example, the formula for Murano glass
differs from that in most other glassmaking centers--so in some
cases there can be a noticeable difference in the feel of the glass
in your hands. Secondly, Murano art glass is notable for a
number of complex techniques, which a collector should be on the
lookout for as a likely indicator of a Murano source. The
techniques pictured and explained in Murano Magic are a good