Today began normally. It started with a meeting for coffee with two of my favorite glass blowers in Murano in quite possibly the smallest bar/cafe in the world. So how can it be better than a perfect cappuccino? But I did have to get up early, walk 2.3 miles to catch a vaporetto to make this appointment.
I had an appointment to visit a famous glass furnace with friends. Now this is not unusual, we are in the furnaces of Murano often working. But the furnace of Giampaolo Seguso was an unique experience, that even my friends from Venice and Murano have never been invited to share.
Sadly, at Giampaolo’s request, I made not a single picture. This is how special his private collection is. It sits on the 2nd floor of his furnace and is crammed full of glass treasures each with their own story. I was not expecting a private tour which lasted hours and included lunch with him. His furnace sits on a fondamenta seldom seen by tourist, on purpose. The view of the lagoon through the large windows is an inspiration.
First let me explain that the family has been blowing glass in Murano, as documented since 1397. That’s right a full 100 years before America was discovered. The family name is written in the “Mariegola”.The official statutes were written on precious paper in the ‘mariegola’ (mare-regola, i.e. the mother-rule) and beautifully decorated. The document didn’t only talk about the institutional aspects of the confraternity related to religion, morality, behavior, politics, economy or administration.
In 1605, the family was added to the Libro d’Oro of Murano (the Golden Book of Murano) which included the most important glassmaking familes and gave them the same privileges as the nobility of Venice.
Giampaolo Seguso is one of the sons of Archimede Seguso a giant in the world of glass whose name still appears on the furnace where he worked. The family boasts 23 generations of glass blowers. Archimede was a difficult task master demanding perfection from the piazza (the area where glass is worked). He was reportedly merciless (and some of our friends began their career there, only much later appreciating what they learned). Giampaolo and his father had differing opinions on glass and life.
Giampaolo spent his first 50 years working in the family business. But he defied the family and struck out on his on. He is a poet and his glass is a reflection of his poetry. He describes himself as a spiritual man, a transparent man, like the glass he makes. Rather, the glass that makes itself as he feels the glass has total control if you just give it space. His book “My Page is Glass” is a story of his glass, his love for his wife and children and his glass is a product of these beautiful poems.
I confess I do not understand his poetry (and neither does Guila) but I am lucky to count him and his beautiful daughter Giula as friends and learn continuously from his knowledge and his beautiful glass.