The Micheluzzi sisters are carrying the torch for their father Massimo, an award-winning glass designer and artist. Elena and Margherita are looking to modern design trends and are creating their own one-of-a kind pieces created by Murano glass masters — upscale pieces that mirror the deep shades and hues of Venice’s canals and that are crafted with the sort of intricate incisions only a master could etch.
“We have been immersed in this world since very young. We’ve absorbed the creativity, we have felt the heat from the furnaces, where the glass was molded with techniques that, for us, were a mystery,” Elena said. “And back in the day, the visitors who flocked to our workshop to admire our fathers work became almost a part of our family.” As the Venetian saying goes, for us, it was “just home and a shop.”
With their father as their guide, success in the sisters’ new careers has been a natural evolution. Elena, 34, lives with her family in London, where her 30 year-old sister Margherita also resides today. “With this new project, we are constantly taking turns, traveling to Venice. I worked in art galleries in Milan and then London for ten years. Margherita specialized in online fashion, and, later, design. By combining our paths, many ideas were born: a real family conversation, led us to understand how great our desire was to start doing something on our own,” Elena mused.
A synergy between sisters, Micheluzzi Glass was born. Vases, glasses and small objects that can be used every day, became the hallmark of their new project — a bit of a departure from the more whimsical, monumental pieces their father works on.
After many test runs in the heat of the glass-making ovens, Elena and Margherita finally found “their” perfect glass size: vibrant yet elegant, they sell drinking glasses in sets of six. The new models feature irregular edges melded with a sense of fluidity making each model unique.
“Actually we started with the vases: simple models but crafted with an elaborate process and offered in different sizes. It was nice to see how our father’s customers, were also keen on buying our pieces — especially drinking glasses, an item that he doesn’t make. With a more economic price point we were also able to attract a younger demographic. People who want to buy something beautiful and usable for everyday life or even for a gift, find our line more accessible,” Elena stated. Passion guided the two sisters during the last edition of the Venice Glass Week in September. In its third edition, the event welcomed the public to admire the work of great Murano glass artists, but also those from other cities. “It is important that everyone understands how beautiful and difficult it is to work with glass, to distinguish the truly artisanal from the more touristic pieces, that inevitably, are all around Venice. It was a colourful and beautiful event,” continued Elena, who noted, with a fissure of satisfaction that her father Massimo won the Glass in Venice Prize this year.
Creativity ignites in Massimo’s historic furnace, where Elena and Margherita also make their pieces. In an oven heated to over a thousand degrees, the fire renders the glowing ball of fiery glass flexible for processing.
“Looking at the glass, no one has any idea how it’s done. There are mysterious techniques… even observing them for years, you would be amazed! On Murano we are fortunate to work with a historic laboratory, with our father’s master glassmaker. Legend has it that the true master glassmakers are all from Murano, and that work is handed down between generations. But one thing is certain: by observing the ability, the commitment, the talent and the study with which objects are created, we also understand the reason they are so exquisite and precious. It is then the master glassmaker who also guides us between the drawings, which my sister and I constantly produce. He tells us if our designs are really feasible. It is just as important in the glass world, as it is in the art world.”
A swirling kaleidoscope of colors is the basis of almost every motif that defines Venetian glass products. Elena and Margherita have deviated from that aesthetic, opting for monochrome over a rainbow of colors, with a sculptured, opaque effect.
“We have evolved some of our father’s works that are actually seen as more contemporary than the typical Murano pieces.
What takes the longest? Grinding.
What makes our vases rich are their small facets, hypnotic, with tiny irregularities. We have discussed at length how to make our small objects precious, and this use of glass often generates amazement. The glass is worked in order to be able to sculpt it cold. Once cooled, it is engraved with diamond wheels in different phases through the grinding process. It is then polished with a pumice stone … each phase includes wheels of different materials.
But the satisfaction (and many ideas) also come from the customers. One woman wanted to buy twenty small Bocia vases, in order to be able to decorate her own garden with a multitude of candles. We found it so beautiful that … on our terrace, now, we have them too.”
Courtesy of Elena e Massimo Micheluzzi