Thursday, March 4, 2010

Muranero - African Art in Murano glass

By on Thursday, March 04, 2010 4 Comments

When you create, you put something of yourself in that design. And so it is with Moulaye Niang, an extraordinary lamp worker who creates African art in Murano glass. Born in Dakar, Senegal, Moulaye now makes distinctive glass beads in Murano, Venice where he manages to evoke the colours and the atmosphere of Africa in his chosen art form. He calls his work, Muranero - a blend of Murano and nero which is Italian for black.

Moulaye certainly comes from a highly artistic family. His mother makes textiles and textile dolls and exhibits in Europe every year. His father makes gold and silver jewelry. During the colonial period, his grandfather organized a "house of art" where many West African jewelry artisans gathered to practice their craft and traveled together all over the world exhibiting their work. His four brothers are musicians and Moulaye himself is a drummer - he's into afro-jazz music.


He didn't go to Italy directly from Africa. He used to live in Paris and studied painting at the Academy - he wasn't kidding when he said"I grew up breathing art." Art must be like food to him - essential for life. His paintings are abstract ones but he also dabbles in figurative and decorative paintings.

Moulaye has been living in Venice for the last 10 years. He studied at the Abate Zanetti Glass School in Murano. His mentor is Egidio Costantini and he collaborates with Davide Salvadore and Pino Signoretto. What's so striking about his work is the effort he makes to differentiate his style from the traditional Murano one.

He said, " In most of my beads I try to remove glossiness: in fact, I put them into the hydrofluoric acid, that attacks glass on its surface and makes them matte. I usually mix the technique of Murano (where decorations are exterior) and the American technique (where the beads are decorated inside and then immersed in crystal). But my real inspiration is Africa, where they also produce beads, though they are made of recycled glass, since there are no glass factories. In fact, I also make pearls with recycled materials. In my jewels I sometimes mix the beads with wood and bamboo, but never with materials like ebony or ivory: I do respect nature and I don’t want to use anything which could destroy it."

Moulaye does custom work and ships internationally. He also teaches at the University of Venice (Ca’ Foscari)as well offers individual lessons at his atelier in Calle Crosera 3902/A – 30122 Venice, Italy. Shown here are pictures from his studio and his work. If ever I am lucky enough to go to Murano, I will drop in!

Moulaye does not have a website yet but his Facebook page has a couple of photo albums. The fan entries (except for mine) are in Italian. However judging from his reply and our email correspondence, I assure you Moulaye's English is good so do drop in on his page. He's probably also fluent in French given his time in France and that Senegal was once a French colony.  He is also on Myspace.

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. When I visited Venice last fall, a friend and me were in the studio of another African lampwork artist. It was so much fun to watch him work. We also bought some beads from him.

  2. You were so lucky to be able to visit Venice. I'm jealous.

  3. Wonderful, beautiful jewelry I'm in love with all things unique and natural.

    I really like this sentence... "When you create, you put something of yourself in that design."... for some reason I reread that after I read it the first time and then went back after finishing the post and read it again, so true.

  4. It's true we all put something of ourselves in the design - some artisans and beginner beaders I know have a hard time parting with their creations. It's like giving away your children!

    Some beaders come to our workshops to make gifts. They often keep said gifts!