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AAV Barbini Srl

AAV Barbini Srl
By Admin Muranonet 7 March 2019 364 Views No comments

Much has been written about the histories of noble families of Murano glass masters, but not nearly enough about what these men did, and their descendants

continue to do, that won them the title of “master” and lead the Republic of Venice to declare some of them “noble”. The Barbinis are a contemporary Muranese family of craftsmen, specialized in handmade Murano glass mirrors, whose work should convince you beyond doubt that artistic ability is an inherited trait.

credits to: OG Venice Italy Travel

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In their workshop on Murano, Giovanni, Vincenzo, Nicola and Andrea Barbini expertly practice a craft that has been handed down through their family for centuries. In fact, it's hard to imagine a family more deeply steeped in the history and tradition of Murano glass – particularly in the design and production of Murano glass mirrors - than theirs. In the mid-1600's the Barbini family of Murano glass craftsmen was inducted into the nobility of the island of Murano. Just a few years later one of it's most famous members, Gerolomo Barbin, who was so skilled in his work as to have been declared a “master” by the Venetian Council of Ten at the tender age of twelve, was spirited away to France where he contributed significantly to the famed Hall of Mirrors at Louis XIV Palace at Versailles. (Read more about the Barbini family history HERE.)

For nearly half a millennia the Barbini family have been among the most preeminent creators of luxury mirrors in the world. “Nearly,” because there have been periods in the history of this large and ancient Muranese family during which they focused on other types of Murano glass production. Even today there are Barbini descendants who are masters in other ways of working with Murano glass. Nevertheless, the current generations of Barbinis are equally masters of the arts of designing and creating Murano glass mirrors as were those who came before them.

In modern times, one might not even associate the words “nobility” and “master” with any kind of real hands-on labor. Yet, the Barbini's occupation is a sharp, messy and time consuming art which they practice in plain clothes and improvised aprons. Nor might one associate the sparkling perfection of a finished mirror – there is not one piece even one tenth of a centimeter off in a finished creation from Barbini – with their workshop which is so much more functional than it is fancy. Theirs is an art that requires focus, dedication and real work.

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After all, what is “master craftsmanship”? It is an extremely rare and powerful combination of technical skill, patience, passion and artistic vision that both enables people like the Barbinis to produce perfect work, and drives them combine their traditional techniques with their modern artistic vision to create genuinely contemporary works of Murano glass art. While they can expertly reproduce any of the many designs for Murano glass mirrors handed down through their family, and repair ancient mirrors as well, the Barbini of today are absolutely premier designers and makers of breathtakingly beautiful contemporary Murano glass mirrors.

It takes four men a week or more of work to produce a finished piece; An estimate that does not include the construction of the frames which, in the case of Barbini mirrors, are also handmade by carpenters on Murano. And, naturally while working with fragile panes of glass, precision is essential every step along the way...


Barbini's staff:

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The Barbinis were kind enough to allow me to observe their work on several occasions. This is some of the process behind the creation of a Murano glass mirror at Artigianato Artistico Veneziano di Vincenzo and Giovanni Barbini.


Barbini's workshop:

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This is Some of How the Barbinis Make Murano Glass Mirrors...

Step 1: Design of the mirror and commissioning of a frame. The Barbinis have many many designs to choose from, including those that have been handed down to them, those they've invented themselves and those that they are dreaming up at the moment. The frames for Barbini mirrors are individually commissioned and handmade by carpenters on Murano.

Murano Glass Workshop, Barbini Workshop, Barbini Mirrors Murano, Barbini Murano, Barbini Showroom Murano, Modern Murano Glass Mirrors, Murano Glass Mirrors, Modern Murano Glass Masters The design for a mirror is reminiscent of an architect's plan for a house.

Steps 2 & 3: Cutting and smoothing the glass pieces. You've noticed that many Barbini mirrors contain complex patterns of glass pieces. Those are individually cut, engraved, silvered and then reassembled to create the finished piece. The glass is cut, free-hand, into the desired shape, then further shaped, smoothed and bevelled. Is it not amazing that, in the end, the pieces arrive at exactly the right dimensions to be reassembled into the final piece?

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Murano Glass Workshop, Barbini Workshop, Barbini Mirrors Murano, Barbini Murano, Barbini Showroom Murano, Modern Murano Glass Mirrors, Murano Glass Mirrors, Modern Murano Glass Masters After cutting, shaping, smoothing, beveling, engraving and silvering each piece will be exactly the right size.

Steps 4 & 5: Design and Engraving. Just as with designs for the shape of mirrors, the Barbinis have centuries worth of designs for engravings, those they've created themselves and those that they're just dreaming up to work with. The designs are drawn out by hand, inscribed onto the glass and then hand-engraved into the glass piece-by-piece.

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Murano Glass Workshop, Barbini Workshop, Barbini Mirrors Murano, Barbini Murano, Barbini Showroom Murano, Modern Murano Glass Mirrors, Murano Glass Mirrors, Modern Murano Glass Masters Just about any design you could dream up or imagine can be engraved into glass by Nicola Barbini.

Steps 6, 7 & 8: Argentatura, Vernice and Cleaning. To be called a "mirror", the cut and engraved pieces of glass must be made reflective. This is also done, by hand, in the Barbini's workshop. Each pane of glass is carefully cleaned and given two baths in a silver solution; a solution that joins it perfectly to the glass and allows the engravings to show. When the silver has dried, each piece must again be cleaned and smoothed by hand.

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Murano Glass Workshop, Barbini Workshop, Barbini Mirrors Murano, Barbini Murano, Barbini Showroom Murano, Modern Murano Glass Mirrors, Murano Glass Mirrors, Modern Murano Glass Masters During

the process of argentatura, silvering, the coating is so sensitive that so little as a stray breath of air can ruin a piece.

Step 9: Mounting. In the end, of course, every individual piece must be assembled to create the finished mirror. (Which we now understand is much more than a mirror; It is a complex jigsaw puzzle of fragile pieces.) On a finished Barbini mirror the spacing and assembly of each individual piece is perfect; Laid and fixed into place by hand. And, of course, when there are decorations attached to the frames of the mirrors these are also handmade of Murano glass.

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Murano Glass Workshop, Barbini Workshop, Barbini Mirrors Murano, Barbini Murano, Barbini Showroom Murano, Modern Murano Glass Mirrors, Murano Glass Mirrors, Modern Murano Glass Masters The mirror, is a complex sculpture. To make the final piece, each separate

piece of glass must be perfectly placed on the frame.

So, these are master craftsmen and this is what they do. People, even people around Venice, like to claim that "mastery" of a craft is a mere matter of practice. I believe that there is much more to it than that. My very first impression, a few moments after I first walked into the Barbini workshop, as I watched Giovanni Barbini carve - free-handed - from a large sheet of glass one elegantly curved piece of glass after another was complete awe. I thought that this man probably had two choices in life: He could have become a brain surgeon, or he could practice the profession that has kept him constantly placing things of beauty into the world.


Read more at www.ogvenice.com