Today we are pleased to feature one of our amazing Venetian Locals, Lisette, a Venetian glassworking artisan preserving a distinct type of this local craft. Lisette’s own heritage is half Venetian and half British who has traveled the world widely, and came to live permanently in Venice in 2001. Although she had an adventurous life in her past, when she came back to Venice she discovered the art of making pearls and beads in Murano and decided to begin to form a career as an artisan. She now lives and work in Murano in her artistan’s studio where she has also her laboratory and a showroom called Maison Lisette. Lisette is a perlera: a woman that creates pearls with Murano glass with a technique called “a lume” which it means that she melts the glass cane and she makes art with it. Currently there are only 50 people in Murano that work a lume and only 70 woman in whole Venice area that do this kind of technique.
The work of perlera is getting lost: not so many people here are doing it. For this reason Lisette joined together with other artists 6 years ago to create the Glass Festival (Festival del Vetro), a 4-week-long festival, that takes place in different parts of Venice every spring — this year from 5th May till 3rd June. The work of perlera is directly related to women, as well as the work of empiraressa which means “the one that puts beads in the wire”. Empiraresse were the women that made the necklaces in Murano for centuries, as they worked in large establishments where tons of small pearls, called contarie, where made.
You can discover more about the work of perlera and empiraressa through a theatrical show this Sunday, February 11 in Murano, which is part of the the Venice Carnival Events calendar: El Ziogo Dele Perle De Vero which tells the story of these women during the 20th century. Lisette invited us to Piazza San Marco to see her demonstration of how to make beads as part of the artisans fair going on in the piazza for Carnival.
How to make a beads with the “a lume” technique
- The perlera chooses the cannello, made with original Murano glass.
- She warms it up and melts it – the temperature must reach 400 degrees celsius.
- The melted glass takes the shape of a bead, putting a harder cane underneath.
- The perlera makes decorations with the filamento which is made of glass as well – this step brings all of the perlera’s artistry to the creation of the bead.
- The beads, which are still extremely hot, are put inside some sand for few minutes while they cool down.
- The beads are ready!
What to Do in Murano
Below are Lisette’s tips for where to eat and what to see while visiting the island of Murano. Murano can be a very touristy place, and the best way to explore it is to seek out authentic artisans and cultural places. It is also nice to request a local like Lisette from the Prontopia app to help you find your way off the beaten path!
Osteria al Duomo: right in front of San Donato church, you will find this great pizzeria, with affordable prices and a garden inside.
Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara (former Church of Santa Chiara): this an amazing place where you can go and see how the masters of glass make their art, without an obligation to buy anything. The owner, Giuseppe, is a good friend of Lisette’s.
Glass Museum: A great place in Murano where you can have a look at the glass made here and learn about the history of the art of glassblowing on Murano. Currently there is a special exhibition called “Il Mondo in una Perla” (the world in one pearl).
Dos and Don’ts
It’s very easy to get into a tourist trap in Murano, in a shop where people are cajoled to buy pricey works , for example – that’s why we recommend requesting assistance from Prontopia Locals who know Murano well in order to navigate this beautiful island safely.
Prontopia helps you easily get around the city by connecting you with an on-demand Local. Prontopia Locals know the best way to get you and your belongings where you want to go, and help with any practical needs along the way. You’ll learn firsthand about the best local spots in the city for dining, shopping, and entertainment. Whether you need help for 15 minutes or all day long, a friendly Local is here to orient you to the city. For help with anything you may need during your stay in Venice, download Prontopia, the app that gets you there.