There are several ways in which this resource can be employed. As was stated previously, every attempt has been made to create a digital construction that is as user-friendly as possible, so almost any approach should be successful to some degree.The publication is built around 35 objects and their accompanying videos: 25 “Key Object” videos and 10 “Techniques in Brief” videos. Together, they constitute the “Reference Collection.” The objects, all of which are in the Corning Museum of Glass collection, were chosen in an attempt to illustrate all of the structure- and decoration-producing techniques used by Renaissance Venetian glassblowers (Fig. 1).
How to Use This Resource
Because glassblowing can look overwhelmingly complicated on a first encounter, a prefatory video “tutor,” titled “Phases and Options of Goblet Making,” is provided here.
For easy access to the 35 objects, there are three tables for the reference collection, each with its own organizational system: by form (profile), by order of (increasing) structural complexity, and by decorative technique. If, for example, the user is looking for a specific form (say, a plate, dish, or platter), the first of these tables would be the best place to look. Objects will be easily and quickly spotted. A user looking for a particularly complex structure (say, one that incorporates four bubbles of glass in a single object) would want to consult the second table: of the 35 objects on the screen, Wineglass with Coin in Stem and Reliquary clearly feature the most complicated structures. For the user interested in decoration, the third table will provide considerable help. For example, the technique of mezza-stampatura (or mezza-forma; Italian, “half mold,” referring to the process of making vertical ribs on the lower part of a vessel) is presented in its four variants in four different objects:
While the heart of this publication is the 35 Corning Museum of Glass objects and their corresponding videos, there is much more within the “virtual binding.” I would call the reader’s attention to these five additional resources:
- The Path to Venice: Developments in Glassblowing Technology before Its Arrival in Venice. This section contains a brief discussion of some of the earliest closely datable inflated glass objects. Eight videos illustrate reconstructed processes, ranging from about 50–40 B.C. through the medieval period.
- A Historical Overview of Glassblowing in Venice. Here is a succinct survey of the gradual changes in Venetian glass from the medieval period to the present.
- A Look inside a Renaissance Venetian Glasshouse. Period sources are noted in this section in an effort to reconstruct the operations of a Renaissance workshop. Here, for example, the invention of the soffietta is investigated.
- The Material: Making Glass in Renaissance Venice. This section considers the types of glass available to the glassblowers. Cristallo, vitrum blanchum, colored glasses, and specialty glasses are briefly described and illustrated.
- A Comparison of Earlier (1500–1700) and Later (1850–1900) Venetian Glass. This section, noted in paragraph 4 of this introduction, explores the technical differences between objects made in Venice during the Renaissance and those produced in the 19th century and later.
Users of this publication who are interested in additional studies of Venetian glass (beyond questions of technique) can easily access a bibliography on the subject prepared by the reference librarians of the Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. The most succinct yet in-depth book in English on Renaissance Venetian glass is Hugh Tait’s survey of the golden age of Venetian glass.1
I sincerely hope that this publication will prompt as many questions as it attempts to answer. In that way, it should help to stimulate additional studies in this remarkable area of European decorative arts.
The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass