Millefiori Glass Imitated in PlasticBy Mark Chervenka
Millefiori Glass Imitated in Plastic
When we saw these pieces in a photo, we thought, "How unusual, millefiori shakers". The description that accompanied the photograph said they were, "...inspired by...the beautiful millefiori trade beads made in Venice in the 16th and 17th centuries..." Apparently, it was Venetians who discovered how to make colorful plastic because that's what these pieces are made of - bits of swirled plastic.
At arms length, they look great. The surface appears to be glass with a matte finish just like vintage pieces. Peel away the felt on the bottom to see the truth. The convincing millefiori effect is created by a plastic shell applied over clear glass.
The source where we bought these pieces only offers the shakers but that doesn't mean other shapes are not out there. Carefully look at the base and edges of any suspect millefiori pieces to make sure they don't have a layer of plastic on top of a glass body. Be especially wary of buying from photographs alone or off the Internet without a firsthand examination.