Muranology, the first on line glossary about Murano Glass from A to Z: Letter H and I
Welcome back to Muranology! After the last interview to the master Eros Raffael, we had planned to keep our focus on the letter “H” and the word “Heritage”, because the Italian and French art of glass bead has been inscribed in 2020 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. However, we have been pushed forward to the next letter, “I”, since we have been, unexpectedly and pleasantly, distracted by the new exhibition at the Stanze del Vetro, “Tapio Wirkkalla and Toni Zuccheri alla Venini” The “incalmo glass” is, indeed, among the highlights of this exhibition.
What does exactly the term “incalmo” in the art of glass mean?
The incalmo glass is always referred to a technique which consists in three main steps:
It is quite a difficult operation because the two edges must have exactly the same size to get perfectly joint to each other. The most virtuoso artists are able to include more than two colors and sections, also giving asymmetrical shapes.
Are the furnace, a master and an assistant necessarily required to create a glass item with the incalmo technique?
The incalmo, in the furnace, is normally created by two artisans working in team, but there can be also smaller items, like a tiny clessidra (sand clock, see pics) and vases, made by a single master with a lampworking torch.
Is it true that not all the colours can be matched with the incalmo?
Some colours might not be compatible and suitable to the incalmo. It sounds a little bit like the chemistry among people. There are persons who will never like each other.
Is incalmo modern or contemporary technique?
The name “incalmo” came out in the first half of the XIX century inside the Venini furnace, but the technique and the word are very ancient, from the Latin IN – Calamus (cane) meaning “inserting with a cane”. The incalmo could remind us the graft. And in the Venetian dialect incalmo is also used with this meaning in agriculture! The Venini‘s masters made the first revival of this technique, but we have relevant examples made in Murano which can be dated back to the XVI century, while there are incalmo glass items from Syria from the IX century.
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