Serendipitous finds are one of the joys of travel. In Venice, the rule is wander, get lost, and head away from the unbearably crowded tourist areas. Doing just that, I found Moulaye Niang’s tiny glass studio by accident, and what a gem! If handblown glass is the embodiment of Venice, these glass beads are the perfect, beautiful (and affordable) way to take home a piece of the fragile island.
Moulaye sits at his little worktable blowing small miracles. When I came in, he popped up and dragged me out into the sunlight, spinning a freshly molten bead on a metal rod. It was black and smoking. Watch, he said, turning the rod. Blue began to emerge, then streaks of red and swirls of yellow. Within minutes, the black blob cooled and metamorphosed into a gorgeous work of art.
Back inside, it was hard to choose among the strung necklaces. Moulaye’s partner is responsible for designing necklaces with his beads, and her combinations are stunning. But there’s also a big tray of unstrung beads. If you can pick one, she will string it into a necklace of her design—or yours.
Many of the necklaces have “two possibilities,” as Moulaye put it: in a short style, or a totally different long style. I’ll let you visit the shop and see for yourself what that means.
Venetian glass beads
Moulaye, from Dakar, studied glassblowing with the masters on Murano. His Venetian glass beads are inspired by nature. They are exquisite, and very affordable. Not cheap. They’re the perfect Venetian takeaway or gift that will be prized forever. All you have to do is find the shop!
Muranero: Salizada del Pignater 3545, Castello, Venice.