Venice’s glass beads, bead makers, and the women who strung and worked with these beads have achieved worldwide recognition: They have been granted status by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Read here about the history of these beads and the women known as the Impiraresse. Though they were paid a pittance and worked long hours, these women offered a vital service and even went on strike to fight for fair wages and treatment. John Singer Sargent offers a rosy view here of their tedious work.
Also prominently featured in this article is Marisa Convento who champions this work, preserves the history, makes bead jewelry herself, and helped to achieve the UNESCO status. Marisa contributed a chapter to my book First Spritz Is Free and has become a friend whom I’m always happy to visit when I’m in Venice. She is a fierce advocate preserving Venice’s unique heritage. Here she is holding stringed beads and wearing one of her creations.
(Both images taken from the Apollo Magazine article featured above.)