MURANO GLASS: THE CANADIAN EXPERIENCE
What do we know about Murano Glass in terms of Canada? When most of us Canadians think of Murano Glass in Canada, what comes to mind is the Psychedelic or Space Age free blown glass of the Late 1950’s and Early 1960’s.
We think of the electric and vibrant colors of yellow, blue, green, orange and red that lit up our glass coffee tables and chrome kitchen tables of the Fifties and Sixties. It gleamed and shimmered on glass and mirror shelves of stores like Birks of Montreal and Toronto, Eaton’s of Montreal and Toronto; and even in stores like Woolworth’s all the way to the Maritimes of Canada. It was so popular in Canada it ran a gamut up to about 1980. It sure won the hearts of the Canadian buyers at the time.
Originally Murano glass blowers and makers immigrated into Canada in the late 1950’s and Early 1960’s from Murano, Italy. Originally they migrated to the Montreal region of Canada and began to open up a few small glass shops there and were importing from Murano and eventually produced their own glass here and distribute to shops throughout Canada. Some of these Murano glass makers moved around and eventually into Ontario. One such example was the Chalet Glass Co., of Montreal. In 1963, after having operated in Montreal for a few years, Chalet moved to Cornwall, Ontario and was quite successful until selling out in 1981. Another company was the Lorraine Glass Co. of Montreal who operated there from 1962-1974.
All of this “Psychedelic” or “Space Age” glass was truly a modernistic approach to how glass looked; it was also a turning away from the traditional way that most Italian glass looked. This glass for the first time was a modern way or interpretation of what new art glass should look like that would have mass appeal and make money for the factories. It was a somewhat blending of cultures of glass blowers from different backgrounds and how they interpreted how modern glass should look and feel when met by the human eye.
This glass normally is very electric and vibrant in color and is actually blown lead crystal. For people who enjoy art and glass, this glass is looked at as dynamic and exhibits great merit of the makers who produced it. For some people, this is “wow” glass because of its colors, irregular and unique shapes and makes wonderful decorative accents to any room in a home; for others, this glass is absolutely sheer ugly. After all, everyone’s interpretation of art is different and as the cliché says, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. After all, to understand art in all its forms, one has to be culturally exposed in order to appreciate art in all its possible forms, whether it be an oil on canvas, a piece of sculptured clay, a hand made bronze or any other medium of art expression.
As one tiny example of expression of the “Psychedelic Era” or “Space Age Era” of Glass, this is but one fine example that won the hearts of many and is still reflective today by the kids of yesterday and the youth of today that is still enamored and wowed by this glass whenever they find a piece.
You will see some Czechoslovakian pieces of glass that look similar and was competitively produced at the time but on closer examination cannot compare to the quality of this Murano glass.
What to really look for are the tri colored or multi colored pieces; these pieces seemingly fetch the higher prices because they are more difficult to find and less was made at the time.
Because of the clean streamline effect, colors, and shapes the younger collectors of today seem to love this glass and are avid collectors of it. Consequently, prices are constantly escalating and continue to climb for the unique and unusual pieces of this glass.