Muranology, the first on line glossary about Murano Glass from A to Z: Letter P
Welcome back to Muranology, the first on-line glossary-storytelling about Murano Glass. Today it is the turn of the letter “P”, after the “O”. We have decided to keep part of the focus on the topic of the natural elements, the chemical components/reactions and the metals. Last time we mentioned the importance of the ORO (Au in the periodic table) for the red-ruby and the golden leaf. Today we have the example of a technique called “PULEGOSO”.
What does “vetro pulegoso” mean?
Pulega in Venetian means “bubble”, so that “pulegoso” is a kind of glass, usually colored, full of bubbles. The “bubble-style” today is quite common and popular worldwide in the industrial drinking-glasses mass production, showing different levels of quality in materials and design, sometimes even replaced by the acetate.
Why did you use the term “bubble-style” instead of “pulegoso” for the industrial glass?
Because we are a little bit jealous of our tradition and language. The pulegoso is an original technique first experimented in Murano in the 20s of the XX century. We are talking about products who are entirely handcrafted.
How is it possible to create these bubbles inside the mass of glass?
The master must inject into the molten glass a certain kind of substance as, for example, petroleum or sodium bicarbonate, which provokes a chemical reaction, causing the formation of gas-bubbles – “puleghe” in Venetian.
Is there any artist credited as the one who invented the vetro pulegoso?
Yes, the artist was Napoleone Martinuzzi, very famous at international level. He must be credited as the inventor of this fine technique, developed inside the Venini glass-studio – which was still a very young furnace at that time, but well oriented towards the contemporary art movements as the Bauhaus. Venini is still today one of the top-10 International brands made in Murano. Gae Aulenti, Carlo Scarpa, Tapio Wirkkala, Tony Zuccheri, Fulvio Bianconi, Vittorio Zecchin, are just few of the other names of designers who made Venini’s production famous worldwide.
How did the fame of the pulegoso glass spread at international level?
Some of the pieces of Napoleone Martinuzzi made with the pulegoso technique were exhibited at the XVI Biennale in Venice in 1928. The aspect of these glass-items was something unique. His opaque-pulegoso looked like a sponge!
Was Napoleone Martinuzzi a glass master?
No, Napoleone Martinuzzi was a sculptor (D’Annunzio’s most favorite one), a designer and, last but not least, a successful entrepreneur in the glass industry. As an artist, he had part of his studies and training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where the famous designer and architect Carlo Scarpa studied too. He was also the director of the Glass Museum in Murano from 1922 to 1931, and co-founder and first art director of the company “Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini &C.” with Paolo Venini and Francesco Zecchin, left in 1932, when he founded, together with Francesco Zecchin, the “Zecchin-Martinuzzi Vetri Artistici e Mosaici”. As a sculptor deeply involved in the study of antique glass, he tried to find a material able to “imitate” the opacity, consistency and shape of the ancient products. His “pulegoso glass” fitted his idea of plasticity.
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