preloder

Handicrafts as a tradition and as a future

Close up of Palazzo Ducale in Venice, with a light green banner reading: Handicrafts as a tradition and as a future. Here's why our work cannot be isolated from our desire and effort to ensure our craft's survival.

Handicrafts have been part of my family history for generations, and it is my hope they’ll also be in its future. That’s why our work cannot be isolated from our desire and effort to ensure our craft’s survival.

Miani Venetian Jewelry is a small artisan workshop in Venice, in the Sestiere of Cannaregio. When you arrive in Venice you’ll probably start strolling along Strada Nova, and while you’re heading inevitably towards Rialto Bridge, you may find yourself bewitched by the many narrow calle that stretch into an alluring maze inside the city. In some of them, you’ll find a view that is both very familiar and increasingly more rare: a tiny shop window, sometimes a bit dark, maybe in a bit of a corner, other times in clear view.
If you look inside you’ll see countless shelves filled with glass jewelry, or perhaps intricate sculptures made with Murano glass, sometimes Venetian masks. If you’re really lucky, you could also see someone – a bit further in the back – in front of a small flame, or surrounded by strange instruments and materials, working in that hushed way that all people who create things with their hands seem to have.

They are the artisans of Venice, often far away from the busiest streets, fewer and fewer every year, but no less determined to keep alive centuries of traditions and artistry, one tiny handicraft at a time.

About me and my family

Nicola and Elena Miani standing in front of their glass handcrafts workshop in Venice, Italy
Nicola and Elena Miani standing in front of their glass handcrafts workshop in Venice, Italy

My name is Nicola Miani, and though fairly new to the world of glass-making – it was 2009 when I opened our first glass shop with my sister, in Ghetto Novo – my family and I are no strangers to handcrafting. My grandfather worked with leather, while my father created silver frames and jewelry boxes. My mother used to design miniatures and floral decorations with vitreous enamels, an art she later on taught me as well. Elena, my younger sister, on the other hand, has learned the traditional lampworking techniques to manufacture glass beads, working for a few years in a well-known Venetian company.

Handcrafting has been part of us our whole lives: we believe that handmade is worth the effort and that nothing made industrially will ever compare. That’s why we make it a point to sell only authentic Murano glass and products from Venetian artisans: from glass jewelry, to glass sculptures, to handbags and notebooks printed with a watercolorist’s original paintings, in our workshop we gather the most beautiful pieces from friends and fellow makers.

That’s also true for our online shop – and on Etsy and other platforms as well – where you’ll find only Venetian glass jewelry designed and assembled by us, using original Murano glass beads crafted either by my sister or our friend Momylia.

Our mission: spreading awareness about our handicraft

When we created this platform we decided we wanted people to learn more about our craft: many people know about Murano glass at least by name, but not that many have had the chance to see its behind the scenes, meet the people behind it, and feel the way we feel about it.

We believe the beauty of handcrafting is the way it entwines art with an artisan’s city, its history and traditions. It’s a way for old techniques to meet modern instruments, and for age-old aesthetics to answer to modern sensibilities. That’s why our work cannot be isolated from our desire and effort to preserve a craft that is as marvellous as it is threatened.

Anyone who ever lived or worked in Venice knows that a symbiosis exists between the people and their city, much the same way as one exists between the city and the lagoon. But locals living in the city are increasingly more rare, and artisans living of their craft face much the same issues. In these circumstances tourism is both the illness and the cure: Venice cannot survive without the people who visit it, but it cannot survive either if something is not done about the way people see and live it.

That’s why we need people like you,

people who appreciate the spirit of Venice and who wish to inform themselves about its history, its traditions and its issues, so that its beauty and its people may withstand the test of time.

Our aim with our blog is to provide you with information and insights on our craft, spread awareness about the importance of responsible tourism, and to promote authentic artisanship and a more meaningful experience of our city.

But we can’t do it without your help! So if you know someone who shares your love for handicrafts or for our city, spread the word: tell them about Venice, the many initiatives to preserve it, its artisans and their work, even our blog!

In the meantime, what are you more curious about beadmaking?
Tell me in the comments!

I've been an artisan my whole life, and now I'm trying to figure out how to make that work in the modern world. I write about Venice and glass beadmaking because I think that it's too precious an art to be forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top