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Giving Life to Old Techniques: Venice Panels

Venice Panel, 2012. Lino Tagliapietra. Blown Glass Panel. Photograph by Russell Johnson.

Venice Panels

Venice – 2012 – Photography by Russell Johnson

The Maestro is known the world over for his iconic pieces, designs and patterns. Lino’s often shapely creations are easily recognizable and demand attention from across the room. Lino has dedicated his life to creating and shaping this molten material, allowing the glass to form in myriad ways.

But every so often, Lino diverges from the norm. The Venetian panels created by the Maestro bring new possibilities to glass. Still formed from blown vessels, Venice panels are cut and reheated until flattened to output a stunning two dimensional piece.

In a way, these panels might represent paintings yet still maintain the wonder of glass by allowing light to pass through. Because of this, you still preserve the depth you’d find in a three dimensional vessel.

Venice Panel – 2011 – Photography by Russell Johnson

The idea starts with a blown glass piece. It is then smoothed and shaped, stretched out and manipulated until you arrive at a cylinder shape (similar to that of the Osaka series). Once you have this shape, the bottom is cut off leaving a round hollow tube essentially. Then, this is cut up the middle and reheated. As it reheats, it periodically needs to be opened (using gloves) little by little until it is lying flat.

This flat piece is now a Venice panel.

The process is similar to the traditional way of making glass windows. In older homes, you may notice that the center of such windows (say a small circular one) will appear wavy in the middle and not maintain clear visibility, this was due to the process mentioned above. A brief history of this method can be found here.


Not only was this the way of creating windows in former times, but it holds special history in Murano as well. In the past, as a substitute to Christmas cards, they would create mini cylinders to be flattened out and engrave their message on them as holiday wishes. Pictured below is a glass piece engraved by Lino in 1974.

“Christmas 1974 – Taglia”

1974 also marked the first time Lino attempted Embryo panels at La Murrina. We would later see the first Venetian panels that we have become familiar with in 1994.

When asked why Lino enjoys creating the Venice panels he stated that he appreciates that even when the glass is made as two dimensional, it still keeps the roundness, softness and depth of a blown piece. In terms of how the glass is presented, you still maintain all the beauty and intricacies of blown glass.

Venice Panel – 2011 – Photography by Russell Johnson

However, the technique and color are very different. While Lino typically works in the moment and will allow the glass to guide his decisions, the panels differ. They require detailed planning and preparation particularly when it comes to the color of the pieces.

While this is a process that has been utilized for some time, it was created with the idea of functionality. Lino has been able to take what is a seemingly practical technique, and transform it into creative masterpieces.

Lino would not be himself without his unending desire to learn and experiment. Not one to rest on previous accomplishments, the Maestro is excited by any opportunity to be creative and explore new ideas.

Venice Panel – 2012 – Photography by Russell Johnson