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Francesca Bortolaso è un artista/artigiana del vetro specializzata in vetrofusione, kilncasting, lavorazione “a lume” di Murano, tecnica Tiffany. Apre il suo primo studio/laboratorio a Verona nel 1992. Crea vetrate per interni, grandi pannelli, formelle, oggettistica e articoli per la casa, perle per bijoux in vetro, componenti per mobili e oggetti decorativi. Spesso collabora con falegnami, architetti e interior designers. Insegna su richiesta in corsi individuali o collettivi. Partcipa a mostre e fiere sia locali che internazionali.

Di recente Francesca ha lanciato in internet il suo nuovo progetto chiamato Fish Art  dedicato a creazioni che richiamano il  mare con particolare riguardo alla sostenibilità dell’ambiente. Le creazioni sono interamente fatte a mano dall’artista con materiali ecologici, vetro, rame e sughero. 


Please describe your profession.I am a Glass Master specialized in Glass Fusion , Kilncasting , Torchbeading and Stained Glass techniques. My works are often characterised by metal insertions included in the fusion process . I am especially attracted by the use of copper , eather as powder or wire . My fused  works mostly range over the creation of interior design objects as vessels, lamps, panels, tiles, furniture knots, tables , mirror frames and more. Also, with the so called italian “a lume” technique ( torchbeading) I create a wide variety of glass beads with the so famous venetian Murano glass, often combining them with gold, silver and copper insertions, giving birth to a rich collection of original glass jewels.

What materials do you use?I mostly use venetian glass, commonly called Murano glass. The main factory is MuranoEffetre  and  sits on Murano island, there is also another branch near Padova where I buy glass sheets, rods and little «murrine»( small glass pieces like little flowers)  for the insertion of  the tiny details which are so typical in venetian glass. I also use american glass which is more suitable when I create big panels for doors, since they provide much bigger sheets. For the decorations inserted in my glass art I often use recycled copper wires, silver and gold foil as well as metal and glass powders. Most of these materials can now be found in the web and sent directly from  national and international factories.

What specific know-how and technical skills do you need in your profession?The main techniques that I use are  Kilnfiring,  Torchbeading and Stained Glass.

In Kilfiring glass is prviously  prepared on a working table cutting glass sheets and smaller pieces, adding  glass  podwers  and  other  components,  according to the designed project.  The raw piece  has then to be put in an electric kiln and fired according to a complex firing schedule. The most exciting time comes at the end of firing when the kiln is opened and  you look at the result.

The «a lume» technique  instead is done with a propane/ gas torch, to melt the glass the flame reaches 1.200 celsius degree. The base glass here is coloured glass rods in different diameters and very small splints that I create myself from the bigger rods using them as tiny brushes to decorate the beads.  Metal wires or foils are often added to the decoration during the fusion steps.

The other technique I am specialized on is Stained Glass which is done on a big table, cutting glass pieces with a spearhead and combining them over a very precise design previuosly prepared on paper, numbering every big or little piece of glass. When the «puzzle»  is ready every piece has to be bordered with copper foil and then soldered with  a tin/lead  alloy on both sides. Then the piece has to be throughly  cleaned and  the lead welding carefully polished.

What is your “ideal” client’s profile?My typical clients are private customers as well as architects and interior designers.

When and how did you decide to be a craftsman?I took the decision to become a glass artist  when I was 30 years old having strongly sensed, over the years, the urge to work with my own creativity and hands. My career as interpreter in French and English and international Tour Leader arrived to a grat shift…..I wanted to beacome a craftsman, so  I started to learn glass techniques 1991, in a Stained Glass studio in Milano. Later on  I litterally  felled in love with fused glass while attending to a  kilfiring glass stage, also in Milano. In 1992 I opened my first professional studio in Verona, updating my technical knowledges every three or four years trained by different international Glass Masters.

Where and how long did you train before you were ready to create your business?I started my training in Milano in 1991 in a Stained Glass studio learning the so called “Tiffany technique”. Soon after that I attended to another glass stage about kilnfiring technique , held by a glass artist who had recently moved to Milano from Argentina. She was of great inspiration to me and a great technical trainer, though concurring to my good knowledge of the firing processes which are so important for a complete work result. Later on, after opening my studio in Verona, I took many other updating classes with international artists, to improve and widen my skills. I have also spent three winters on Murano island to learn the “ a lume “ technique (bead-torching) to create glass beads for jewellery and furniture components. I started  my own professional business after six months of first training, having yet understood how much I was willing to make glass craft  my future career . Then my competence and technical abilities have evolved over the years with a profound dedication to what I had choosed myself to dedicate to…Glass Art.

What role do “talent”, and “creativity” play in your profession?These qualities are essentials to my profession and competence , no one of the two can be left behind, they go strictly together. My creativity is innate and comes from my mind and soul, nothing is strictly thoughtful in my work, it is mostly istinctive and my inspiration often comes from Nature.

How could your profession be even more innovative?Glass tools and materials have not changed that much over the years except for firing kilns that are better insulated and easier to work with. A wider variety of technical tools to use in the firing proces, as moulds and metal utensils, are now more available. When I started fusing I was one of the few other artist in Italy working with a big electric kiln, finding technical information only in USA experimental publications. Nowadays, especially for the firing schedules, it is much easier to find information on the web. Today  my profession could be more innovative  with so many new resources available in the artistic glass field, which has greatly expanded. There are now newer and safer technical information on the web  and more available digital resources. In Europe there are few glass schools where you can have a good training and these are moslty private glass art studios, except for some institutional schools like the one in Italy on Murano island. There is also a good school in Turkey near Istambul.  In the US instead, glass art has become a very popular artistic domain and many universities have opened studio departements specially dedicated to glass. Over there it is possible to earn an university  degree in glass art techniques.  A good thing today is that social media help a lot in finding hints for  marketing and advertising, helping the artists to have a greater impact on the market and a wider clientele.

What is the best way to learn your profession?The best way to learn my profession is to have a strong motivation and deep interest  for artistic glass . Glass is a fascinating and beautiful material but not an easy material to manage and work with, it  needs manual skills and technical knowledge if you want to have nice results, otherwise your work can result faded and dull.  To get a good education  look for glass art schools in Europe or international glass artist studios in the Internet, which are many.  There are also some international glass art organisations  where it is possible to get educational information from such as  the american GAS (Glass Art Society) and IGBS (International Glass  Bead Society). There is also an excellent  private school near Pavia held by my first glass fusion teacher Miriam di Fiore. I do also teach  the mentioned techniques on  individual or group courses, upon request, here in Verona.

Your message to young generations:To young people willing to learn and become a glass art professional I would suggest to learn  very well  the technical groundwork and foundation of the art tecnique they choose , which are many today, as well as glass history . Then a good artistic and designing preparation is very important too. Also I suggest learning how to build a modern business basis, attending marketing and business classes as well as  social media advertising classes .

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