Monday, July 11, 2005

Thoughts on Murano

I've been back from Murano for a little more than a week and I've had a little time to think about the experience. I'll probably copy this post to somewhere that will be easier to find in the long run because I know how blog posts have a way of falling to the bottom and becoming hard to find.

Ok - here goes -
Is it worth it to pay all that money to go all the way to Italy (Murano in particular)?For me, absolutely! First of all, there's nothing like being around all of that glass and glass history. I find the place absolutely charming with its architechture and missing pieces of stucco. And then there's the water! What a different lifestyle. I was absolutely charmed and it almost seemed as if the class was just a bonus. Now, understand, some people see the stucco thing, water, heat, etc. enough of an inconvenience to keep them home. I'm just telling you what my opinions are and you can take 'em or leave 'em.

Ok - so that said, do I need to pay for a class? No  you can go and visit on your own if that's what you want. Venice and Murano and truly travel-worthy destinations. On the other hand, if you aren't part of a class, I'm not sure how much of the "back story" you'll get to see. We were taken to a hot shop, told of good places to buy tools, given a better history of Venetian glass style and we felt more like temporary residents than tourists.

Do I need to pay for a class with a "glass master"? Agan, the answer is no - depending on what you want. You do NOT have to pay $1500 for a 6-day class (the cost of my class with Lucio) unless this is what you want. I've heard of other classes that are even more expensive led by American beadmakers but do keep in mind, that while the person is teaching you, as in the States or anywhere in the world, they are generally not creating works of art for sale so in addition to teaching you, part of the fee is kind of for "opportunity costs". On the other hand, neither are you (making works of art for sale) so you have to figure this into the price too if you make a living off of your work. People have asked me if they should take a six-day workshop with Lucio or break it up with another teacher. Lucio does what he does and it's largely the same for six days. He's not going to teach you a million different things although we had a few hours of animals, ring-making and half a day of practicing blowing goblets - it was a welcome change from the INCREDIBLE but somewhat repetitive sculpture demos.

Do I need to be extremely experienced to take one of these classes? In my opinion, I would go with a good base of glass knowledge. In Lucio's class, you relearn much of what you know about glass and how it flows and cools but if you came knowing nothing, I think it would color your future glass experience and I'm not sure you'd have an easier time learning beadmaking, etc. Also, Italian shops use different equipment. For me, it's been an adjustment to use my Nortel Minor again after even just a week of using the softer flame of an Italian torch. Do I want to run out and buy an Italian torch? Yeah, kind of, but my Minor is fine for my little perfume bottles and beads. I can also do small sculpture with it but it's an adjustment in the way that I learned.

What will I learn in a Lucio class? You'll learn thebasics of sculpture over a torch. Lucio does a lot of the human form so it's worth it to study the human figure (both male and female) before you go. For example, when Lucio creates breasts or pecs, he heats the side and then pulls up towards the underarm to create the fleshy part/muscle that we all have. Come on, I dare ya. Raise your arms and look in a mirror - you'll see what I mean. So, we learned torsos, small full body figures, costumed figures, masks, rings, goblets, small animals and insects and "architecture" for stands etc. Can any of us in the class "do" all of these things? No, but we have the basis for practice.

Well, that's enough thoughts for now. Feel free to email me at any time should you want to know more about the trip. On current news, we held a meeting for the possible formation of an ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) Washington chapter at Pratt Fine Arts Center yesterday. It was a great meeting! I tried my first fusing project on Saturday night - eeek! Terrible, must take a class. Finally, I made some new focals that I will post on ebay later tonight.

Have a good week!