Exceptional Venetian artisan: Alessia Fuga and the Art of Glass Bead Making

What a beauty... During our guided tours of Venice we normally like to tell our guests not only about the art and history of our city, but also about its peculiar culture and traditions, which can be frequently found in the artisan workshops. Skilled hands transform different materials into objects that can be considered real pieces of Venetian art. 
(If you want to know more about our specific tours this is the link Venice Specific Tours and this is right the one for the Arts and Crafts in Venice).

The Art of Venetian Glass Beads

It seems that the first glass bead makers in Venice, all men, were called margaritieri, who produced small beads that were frequently used to embroid and decorate mainly clothes. There were also the so called paternosteri (from the prayer “Padre nostro”, i.e. “Our Father”) who created beads for rosaries (only long afterwords would the same beads be used for necklaces).
Quite soon, however, several women started to produce beads, and most of their workshops were concentrated in the Cannaregio District. It was the daughter of a renowned Venetian glass blower, Maria Barovier, who first among women decided to produce glass beads, creating the famous Rosetta.

Rosetta bead

The beads produced in Venice became well renowned all over the world, they would be even used as real exchange currency in the commerce with Africa and America, thus creating cultural bridges among the different continents.
Since December, 2020, on a proposal of the Committee for the Safeguarding of the Art of Venetian Glass Beads, the Art of Venetian Glass Beads has been registered on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity protected by UNESCO.
Intangible: the heritage is not the bead itself… it’s the hands that produce beads and the community of those artisans that use beads in different ways to create refined art objects.

In the Studio of a Glass Bead Maker: Alessia Fuga

Alessia Fuga 

We would like to introduce to you a great perlera (i.e. glass bead maker), who works in Murano. Her name is Alessia Fuga.
She was very young when she decided to undertake this profession, fascinated by the history and the beauty of Venetian glass beads.
She took it as a challenge to grow both as an artisan and as a person.
After having attended a course on glass bead making, she decided to quit her studies in Economics and to open her workshop in Murano.

The Studio of Alessia Fuga in Murano Island 

Alessia Fuga in her Studio

Alessia tells us with great emotion about her passion
She shows us how she creates every single bead, following ancient traditions. She starts by melting a glass rod and wrapping the melted glass around a long steel needle, thus producing the base of the bead, which can then be modelled in different shapes and eventually decorated.

Different colors of glass rods

Melting the glass rod

The decorations can be of all sorts, but the one that Alessia prefers is the dotted decoration: after having covered the base of the bead with some silver leaf, she melts thin glass rods of different colours and touches the base with them, creating with great skill perfect little dots.
This technique, to put it in Alessia’s words, allows her to concentrate her attention on the object she is working on. In her opinion, this is a zen technique, almost a sort of therapy.

Dotted decoration

The final result is simply amazing: it is always different, every single bead is unique and unrepeatable!
It is also possible to make blown beads using another special technique…

A Beautiful Alessia Fuga's  Bead

Alessia Fuga's Beads

Obviously, in order to come up with such masterpieces you need patience, passion, skills and practice…
Even if it's in Italian language, you can link to our Youtube channel to wacth a short video for having an idea of Alessia creating her beautiful beads Alessia Fuga and her beads

Would you like to test your ability? Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a guided tour at the discovery of the world of beads in Venice and Murano? And what about spending one and a half hour at Alessia’s studio to learn from her how to create an original Venetian glass bead with your own hands? We sure think this might be a unique and unrepeatable experience to live in Venice, as well as a new way to visit our city by entering its history and traditions, not just looking at it from the outside.
We’ll be waiting for you! Ciao!