Millefiori Glass Imitated in PlasticBy

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.

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Fig. 1 Shakers that look like millefiori actually have a plastic shell over a clear glass body. The plastic shell shown chipped off the shaker on the left.

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Fig. 2 Remove the black felt pad to see the clear glass shaker under the plastic shell. The shakers are marked Taiwan in raised letters.