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Saturday, March 29th
Today I have two topics (which seem to rule my week on Murano) - glass and food. Yesterday we had lunch with Ivano Ferro, handsome owner of EFFETRE (which is derived from the Italian words for "three brothers"), and we were talking about which new colors we think Effetre SHOULD make. Of course, my number one priority was a nice opaque purple, like in a "real" purple, and not some faint shade of violet or lilac, and Ivano firmly believes that this is impossible to achieve. Then I mentioned that it would be nice to have some "reactive" colors, similar to Double Helix, and he just said "Oh, but we already HAVE that!"  So, for desert we went back to the factory and he dug out a sample piece made with what he called "oxidizing black":
the photograph doesn't really show it very well, but there is a lot of blue and green shimmer in this. I just made a plain bead with it, and I didn't get any of the blues and greens, but you know, when Ivano is breathing down your neck, even making a plain round bead feels kind of weird.
I have a lot more pictures, but I forgot that I have to pick up some tools at Carlo Dona's before he closes, so I'll be back later...
Thursday, March 27th
An uneventful day, had a few business meetings (over lunch, of course, and dinner coming up), and it was raining all day, so I didn't take too many pictures, just thought for fun I would take you into an Italian toilet. Thank god for the internet, because in person, we all wouldn't fit in. I just barely fit into my own shower here.....I measured it, and the shower-stall is 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet. Good thing it's not summer, try to lift your legs for shaving in those dimensions......but back to the toilet, it was in a little coffee shop where I had another cappuchino after the cappuchino after lunch - because through the window I could see Mike Frantz and Davide Penso - and when you see friends in the coffee shop, you go in and they buy you a coffee, whether you want one or not....(and at the prices for coffee they can afford it, I don't know exactly how much it is at the moment, because I haven't had to pay for one yet, but last time it was something like 90 cents or so....) . AS FOR that toilet, first I was faced with this sign on the toilet door. I stopped for a moment to figure out whether it contained any important information about the flushing system (like "don't flush while standing NEXT to the toilet"), but then the urge to USE the toilet was stronger than the urge to know....and I survived unharmed.
once I saw to toilet itself, I had to think for a moment
The toilet LOOKED normal enough, but it was only about a foot off the floor. So, I was rethinking the message on the door. Maybe it said something like "dear customer. As Venice is sinking, of course our toilets are sinking as well. So, if you dare SIT on it, it might happen that your weight will push the toilet all the way through the floor, and if you get stuck and don't get your butt off it fast enough, you yourself might go crashing through the floor and don't expect any handsome gondoliere to fish you out of the canal, because he won't wont your smell on his velvet cushions....". So, I hovered.
At least the sink though makes perfect sence...there are no knobs for hot and cold water, and no electronic sensor that might or might not work - you step onto a foot lever. THAT would be worth copying....
Okay, toilet pictures from Italy probably aren't the most appealing images, so, just a couple more from outside of a glass gallery on Murano:
Wednesday, March 26th
For today's armchair traveler's delight I wanted to take you to the (only) local supermarket, the Coop. Mike is already behaving like a real Muranese - equipped with a little wheeled cart, because remember, there are no cars on Murano, so you will have to carry your groceries home....
Produce has to be picked up with plastic gloves:
and those pesky non-Italian tourists are very politely reminded of that rule....
Overall, there are some very strange things in this supermarket - all the cosmetic products are sold as empty boxes only....(Mike thinks it's to avoid theft....but I now understand why the Italian women have so many wrinkles...somebody should tell them that applying empty air to their faces won't do any good....)
They might not be getting much in terms of cosmetics, but if they are into ham-facials, the choice is endless:
if you are thinking of making a ham-sandwich, think again, because at 6 pm, the bakery is running on empty:
So, you might be walking out of the supermarket, the gloves still on your hand, no face cream, heaps of ham, no bread....and look what the LAST item is they entice you to buy before the cash register:
No wonder Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe.......
we also took the boat over to Venice, to visit with one of my favorite Italian Glass-artists, Vittorio Constatini....The pictures from the time in Venice are not of very good quality, because I had forgotten to charge my battery and had to use the "snapshot" function of my digital Camcorder. Still, you'll get the idea:
Vittorio showing us some of his "secret" bug-work
and some close-ups of recent work, not for sale, in the vitrine of his shop. Remember, ALL of this is glass, amazing, isn't it?
and this is the workbench were all these little glass-miracles are created....
I took a few pictures of Venice as well, but I think I'll have to go back with the other camera to get some decent shots. In the meantime, how about a look at and into a store that sells "Carnivale-outfits"....I have been to Venice quite a few times, but I've never made it during the Carnival-season....hopefully some day. Hope you enjoy the pics.....
Tuesday, March 25th  -  Murano, Italy
Today we visited the Effetre factory.....Not much to look at from the outside:
and not much of a sign kidding, this really is all there is!
Mike Frantz und Ivano Fero, Sohn des Inhabers
a look into the Millefiori and handpulled colors ( I love the ceiling...)
and the general warehouse for glass rods
As much as I would like to show you pictures from the production part of the factury, the Italians are a little fussy about that part:
but I was allowed to take pictures of the guys who pulled Millefiori.....which is pretty much the way "handpulled" colors are pulled into rods. I also made a little (crappy) video of this process, make sure to have your volume turned down, or the music will scare you to pieces (I was so focused on what they were doing that I didn't even notice that I was standing right next to the speaker...) (I added the link to the video, but when I click on it Google tells me in Italian that the video is not available at the moment, at least I THINK that's what it's telling, me, and why does Google all of a sudden talk to me in Italian???)
(those guys are probably STILL walking)
Before I left I mentioned that Mike was picking up some new colors that Effetre made exclusively for Frantzartglass.....(the previous "Odd Colors" were made by Vetrofond, these colors will be collectively called "Cool Colors"....and the naming of the individual colors is currently underway, and I assure you that any strange names will be "named under the influence"....and I am innocent.....)   Can you tell that Mike is excited?!:
The glass he is grinning over is still in the to-be-named state, what it is is basically a bad blend of black and white:
We haven't had access to a torch yet (you would think that lampworking-stations are a dime a dozen on Murano, but not exactly, and I tried to make a bead on hollow copper tubing at Davide Penso's studio, but since I am not equipped with Teflon-fingers, I don't see myself working there...but Lucio Bubacco is coming back from somewhere tonight, so maybe we can sneak into his "Scuola Bubacco" and play with the glass there, darn, I should have brought a HotHead....), but I think that this could be a cool glass for the "background" of either organic beads, or florals, or frogs....or seahorses, if Kimberly gets her hands on this....wait, I think she already has, Mike showed me a picture of a seahorse she had on LE, made with two other new colors "Green Tee" and "Marine Wave".....
Anyway, here is a pile of some of the new colors:
For those of you who are NOT that much into the glass (like my parents, or my dear friend Marshall back in Friday Harbor), here some "general" images of Murano.....Not much  commentary on these, just enjoy the scenery, and the fact that there is not a single car to be seen - because there aren't any. You wanna get around, you walk. Or hop on the boat-bus.....(the first picture shows a floating busstation)
 The garbage is waiting to be picked up by the garbage-barge...
people walking everywhere (after 6 pm however, it's dead, pretty much)
Pretty little houses right and left
and Jesus lives around the corner
Monday, March 24th  -  Murano, Italy
My first day here was quite relaxed, not much going on in Murano anyway, since it's Easter Monday, and for Italians Easter is rather a big deal. But Mike and I strolled the neighborhood, had a little Pizza in my favorite Trattoria, and then we stopped by Davide Penzo, one of the very glass-artists in Murano who work exclusively in beads. If you are curious, he has a website, Here are some picture from his studio:
His workspace is very tiny, and close to the window, so people who walk buy can watch him work from outside, without having to hang over his shoulder, like certain people we know....
This is one of the style of beads Davide is well known for: simple in a "European Way", but incredibly difficult to make (unless you make a few hundred of them a day....
What I found interesting is that he makes the beads on hollow copper rods, without bead release....he cuts the copperrods off after the bead is made, and then he gives them to a company that soaks the beads in some kind of acid solution which dissolves the copper. I gave it a try, but geeee, the hollow copper rods get REALLY hot when you make a bead, Davide must have Teflon fingers....
One more shot of Davide - here with Mike Frantz, having a quick beer after work...
The bar (the only one open on Murano after 6 pm) is a charming little building, mostly stuffed with boxes of chocolate and candy everywhere.....but I was more interested in the dog outside than the chocolate...
Most countries in Europe are a lot more relaxed about drinking alcolol in you can see from the neighborhood people who are stopping by for a little sip of wine or beer before returning home from their afternoon stroll....
Of course I had to take a better picture of that poodle, who has handsdown the ugliest poodle haircut I have ever seen (and I think he must have read my thoughts, because there was nothing I could do to make him look at me)
From there on we walked home, it was getting almost too dark for pictures, but here is a look at the "street" with our appartment (the white house towards the center of the picture). I have tons of pictures of Murano, but for now I'm tired, the jet-lag is not quite over, they'll follow tomorrow.
Sunday, March 23rd  -  London, Gatwick Airport
I bet you can already tell that you will get lots of updates from Murano from me - I'm not even THERE yet and already I'm uploading pictures from the road. This was the first time I have seen a modern version of the famous London cab, but I have to warn you, since I am using a computer here at the airport lounge, I did not have any kind of image processing software to shrink the picture from my camera - but the website software allows you to resize images, but if you don't move the arrow in the right way, you might be either stretching or condensing the image. So, for all you know, these cabs might be Volkswagens that were stretched in the process of shringing the image....Speaking of Volkswagen, one of the pleasures of my trip so far was that after the 9 hour flight from Seattle to London Heathrow I had to work my way to London Gatwick to continue my flight to Venice...Little did I know that these two airports are a one hour (and $ 40) bus-ride apart. Mike Frantz, who booked this flight from hell for me, is better waiting with a big bowl of Spaghetti or several pounds of those fabled fantastic new Effetre colors when he picks me up at the airport in Venice. Grrrrrrrr.
Finding your way around an airport in a foreign country can have it's difficulties, though I wasn't really worried about figuring out how to find my way from Heathrow to Gatwick, considering that people are supposed to speak English here. Well, they do, in a quaint sort of way - but they might be a little weak on the information side....At the transfer counter in Heathrow I asked how to get to the other airport, and they told me to take bus # 13 (good think I'm not superstitious), and the ride would be about 45 minutes, it would cost about 10 and yes, they take credit cards on the bus.  I found the bus stop for # 13 allright - very concise, remember, this is one of Europes major airports:
The drive was actually kind of pretty - very rural. During the entire one hour trip I didn't see one sign for a fast food restaurant, a gas station, a motel, a mall, actually, other than signs that were definitely English but somehow medium meaningless (something like "queue after crossing"), I saw more grazing sheep and gigantic blanket-covered horses (I kid you not, the English horses must be 50 % larger than the average American horse) than any sings of "civilization", apart from a few country estates and miniature villages. I think it would be fun traveling the English countryside (and here I thought I was in London...) - but thinking of LIVING here....I would miss my Drive-through Espresso, my drive-through banking, hopping into Michaels for some creative supplies......"our" countrysides might not be as charming (at least near the civilization centres, who knows, maybe London has long been taking over by sheep farmers and we just didn't know), but there is something to be said for the convenience of the American Way of Life. There is probably a lot to be said against it to, but you ain't hearing it from me today....
Oups, I better make sure I'm not going to miss my flight to Venice......thanks for stopping by, and for sure you'll here from me soon!