Company Profile

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“Ercole Moretti” was established in 1911 on the initiative of three brothers, with the intention of producing two classic types of Venetian glass beads: the “Rosetta” and the mosaic ‘Millefiori”.

The company, now helmed by the founders’ grandchildren, has embraced various kinds of processes over the years to expand its product range. However, murrina glass has always been its core business. Right from their very first years in operation, the Morettis developed a production of “millefiori” beads that immediately stood out, and still does, for their even execution as well as their unusual and unmistakable finish. The early 1970s heralded the production of murrina pendants which aroused interest for their innovative design and realisation, and they would soon become a classic in the sector.

Later, the Morettis decided to branch out into different sectors by launching a production of dishes and ornaments in murrina; elegant objects that recall the allure of Roman glasswork techniques and which are still some of the most popular products in the entire range.

The origins of murrina glass, the millefiori technique

The term “murrino” was coined in 1878 by abbot Vincenzo Zanetti, who used it to define vases and bowls in Roman mosaic glass created by assembling small glass cylinders which had abstract or figurative designs, like portraits for example, inside them and right through their length.

In fact, by the first century B.C., the Romans were producing highly unusual vases, using a type of stone with vibrant, contrasting colours, cut into pieces and assembled like a mosaic. Soon the stone was replaced by glass, and it was by referring back to these vases, in the 19th century, that the abbot Vincenzo Zanetti brought this technique to light, hitherto forgotten for one and a half thousand years.

The basis of murrina glass working are the “murrine”: small cylindrical elements with a characteristic floral motif, one placed next to the other. The murrine are obtained by cutting the glass canes into sections of a few millimetres.

The canes are made by superimposing different layers of coloured glass: using an iron rod, the glass worker draws a given quantity of molten glass from the furnace, and puts it into a crucible containing different coloured glass, to create a second layer, and so forth. At a certain stage in the process, the mass of molten glass is inserted into a mould with vertical ribbing in the shape of a flower, star or heart, and this is how a murrina with a floral pattern, a star or a heart is achieved.

The mass of glass obtained, with the pattern on the inside, is thinned by stretching to form a long cane which is then left to cool. Once cool, the cane is cut into ten little segments, called “murrine”, which are laid close to one another to create the composition. During fusion the spaces between one murrina and the other close in to make a compact sheet of glass which is then given the shape of the desired object.

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