Since the time of Marco Polo, glass bead making has been important in Venice. Venetian artisans are believed to have been inspired by the carved pearls that Marco Polo brought back from the East. While the industry may have started out as a way to copy Asian designs, it has since evolved into a distinctly Venetian art form.
Millefiori Beads – If you’ve heard of Venetian beads, you’ve probably heard of them. Millefiori translates to “thousand flowers” in Italian. Each fashionable bead uses a variety of thin slices of glass canes, each with a particular pattern or design. Glass canes are now available in many designs and patterns, such as the COE90 Twisted Cane.
These tiny pieces of glass are solidified into pearls of astonishing diversity and beauty. Each glass cane is shaped with an image or pattern inside which is only visible from the tip.
You can think of it as a refrigerator cookie, only much smaller and made of glass. Flowers and other natural scenes are popular designs for these glass canes, but endless variety is possible.
Mosaic beads – Mosaic beads also use glass canes, but instead of having a pattern inside the glass canes, pillars are used to build the design directly on top of the mosaic. Very fine and tiny glass canes are used to place the color one point at a time. These beads take a lot of time and a lot of hard work to do.
Floral beads – Similar to millefiori beads, floral beads are made from small slices of glass canes. These canes have a color pattern on the inside and are paired with another piece of glass as the base. This creates a repeating color pattern on the pearl face.