What is Millefiori?

Last week I listed a channel set millefiori necklace pendant. When listing an item, one doesn’t take the space to explain what a term means.  So I thought I’d explain what millefiori means and how it is made.

Millefiori mosaic cross pendant,Italy

Millefiori mosaic cross pendant,Italy

According to Wikipedia, Millefiori is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).Apsley Pellatt (in his book Curiosities of Glass Making) was the first to use the term “millefiori”, which appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1849. The beads were called mosaic beads before then. While the use of this technique long precedes the term “millefiori”, it is now frequently associated with Venetian glassware.

The millefiori technique involves the production of glass canes or rods, known as murrine, with multicolored patterns which are viewable only from the cut ends of the cane. A murrine rod is heated in a furnace, pulled until thin while still maintaining the cross section’s design, and then cut into beads or discs when cooled.

Millefiori is used to make paperweights, decorative glassware, beads and jewelry.

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