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The story of our Murano glass cherries almost didn't happen.

Five Murano Glass Cherries lined up in a row

"Fruits and veggies for sale!” These were some of the first Murano Glass items I added to my product line when I started to move from leather goods to glass back in 1993. It was a group of 10 miniature Murano Glass fruits and veggies like red peppers, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, apples, oranges and cherries. A buyer could choose a set of fruits or a set of veggies. One day I was asked by a customer if they could buy only cherries. I wasn't crazy about the idea of breaking up the group, but told them that I would see if I could manage the request. Turns out this was the best thing that could have happened. Soon I was selling hundreds of Murano Glass cherries to everyone from small gift boutiques to major museum stores all across the country. My orders of 2,000 cherries at a time challenged the most seasoned craftsman, but they were happy.

I was working with an older gentleman who made some of the pieces I was doing and would collect other items from other craftspeople, consolidating them into a single shipment. This saved me both time and money. Before Sergio passed away, he gave me a list of the smaller artisans that were making items I was buying through him. One of the names was for the cherry maker.

"Sure, I can make these for you, but I'm “in pensione."" He went on to explain that because he was retired he could not invoice me and I would have to pay him in cash and ship them myself. Two thousand cherries every few months!!! How would I ever manage that? I vowed that I would find another way. With the help of a friend I put together a list of everyone that had the ability to make small glass items and the skill to recreate the perfect cherry.

Ten Murano Glass multi colored cherries

It is all about the size of your furnace. Each piece of molten glass whether it is small or large needs to cool down slowly or it will shatter due to thermal shock. Glass melts between 2,500 to 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit. The Master glass blower has to maintain that heat in order to twist, stretch and blow the glass into the myriad of shapes they are trying to achieve. They keep the heat applied with either a table torch or a large blazing furnace. When finished, each piece must go into an Annealing Oven, also called a Kiln or furnace in order to slowly lower the temperature of the glass. This was important for me to know so that I could find someone who had the correct equipment for making small glass objects.

Starting with artisans I was familiar with, I carried a sample of my cherries door to door to find someone who could remake them or direct me to someone who could. Back in the 1990's Murano was a very secretive place. No one knew what anyone else was making. Curtains and doors were more visible than the inside of shops and studios, keeping the makers hidden from competitive, curious eyes. I was on a hunt.

Bowl of glass cherries

It took at least a week of following every lead, telling my story, looking at samples and judging both craft and business acumen; it is one thing to have the ability to make glass products and another to know how to invoice, package and ship them out of the country. Close to giving up hope, I found the perfect craftsmen. I decided to give it 3 months and see if they could keep up. It's been 20+ years now of working with the same 2 people who sit side by side in a small studio making these delightful, life-like Bing Cherries. We have expanded with them to include colored cherries and a variety of colorful candies.

The hunt and the subsequent relationship building are my favorite parts of what I do. I love finding a product that interests me and then searching for the person who makes it. When I started, this took a lot of effort and was a huge challenge, it has become easier today as curtains are pulled back and doors open. It is still the most fun!

Five multicolor cherries made of Murano glass

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