Gallery owners worldwide know of the renowned glass sculptor Dino Rosin. The prolific master creates critically acclaimed glass sculptures, many of which are on display at prestigious galleries around the globe. His reputation stems from his love for glass work along with an energetic spirit and enthusiasm that breathes life into this unique medium.
At the age of 12 he left school to begin an apprenticeship at the Barovier and Toso glassworks, where he stayed until joining his brothers, Loredano and Mirco at their factory, Artvet in 1963. At age 15, Dino, working with his brother Loredano, gained success as a new glassworker, collaborating with some of the most famous artists of the time: Picasso, Chagall, Jean Cocteau, and Le Corbusier.
In 1975 Dino became Loredano’s assistant and they collaborated for the next 20 years, with Dino becoming a master in his own right in cold work.
In 1988, Dino Rosin was invited to the Pilchuck Glass Studio in Washington to teach solid freehand glass sculpture with Loredano and American glass artist, William Morris. Four years later, Loredano met an untimely death in a boating accident. After some months away from the furnace, Dino’s son, Diego helped bring his father back to his artist’s calling. Diego had , in the meantime, earned his diploma from the Venice Art Institute.
Creating glass sculpture involves both hot and cold techniques. In the heat of the furnace, a mixture of raw ingredients will melt to produce the molten glass which is transformed into the piece of art. To avoid stress, as the glass cools, the piece goes to an annealing oven to further cool over a long period time (sometimes days). Once the piece is cooled, it is ready for the “cold room”, where it may be acid etched or polished, beveled, bull nosed, polished, painted, sandblasted, cut, drilled, or engraved. This is arduous work, requiring great concentration to every detail.
Dino Rosin excels in transforming the raw materials using his personal inspirations to create his unique glass sculptures. He shows an almost unequalled gift for forming, cutting, and grinding such large sculptures.
One of my favorite pieces is “Triple Sassi”, a centerpiece of my personal collection. Admiring the way the light dances through the glass, I marvel at how the master created what suggests a jelly fish floating around, minding its own business in the midst of this large arrangement of both clear and colored glass. Rosin is skillful in using “calcedonia” glass with clear glass, giving his pieces a unique and recognizable signature.
On a recent trip to Italy, my husband Jeff and I took the opportunity to meet with Dino and Diego Rosin at their studios for this Rickie Report exclusive. Getting there required following maze-like directions from Venice to the island of Murano (heightening the adventure), where the studios (furnaces) of the legendary glass makers are located. This is no ordinary furnace open to the public.
We were greeted by Dino’s extremely friendly office assistant, who invited us upstairs to the showroom. Imagine one of every sculpture he and his son, Diego, have made in one room! We saw the two newest sculptures, ready for market as well as some of Diego’s “prototypes” where he experiments using his own glass sculptured pieces within wooden frames ( which I thought made for an eye catching table).
Not being fluent in Italian, I placed my hand over my heart as I focused on new pieces I had previously not seen. I used this “sign language” in developing an instant friendship with Dino’s warm assistant that transcended the language barrier. Then she pointed out a clear sculpture which had been designed for and given to the Pope on his most recent visit to Venice.
In this space, gallery owners from around the world come to choose from the prototypes of pieces that will be delivered to their galleries. While we were there, a gallery owner from Amsterdam was choosing pieces for his showroom.
On the main level of the building is the furnace room. Normally, the “hot room” was closed on Mondays, the day we were there. Dino’s artisan team was in the “cold room”, polishing and shaping glass that had already cooled in the annealing oven. Watching the team work, I was struck that they were not wearing face masks but did wear eye protection.
Dino and Diego Rosin emerged from the cold room to meet us, shake hands, and welcome us to their furnace. Dino shared his disappointment currently being in the cold room, and apologized for this. Dino asked me how much time I had to spend and I replied “all the time that you need”. He then accompanied us back to the furnace and set up folding chairs for us to sit in while we witnessed the process.
We, along with the gallery owners from Amsterdam, and the assistant sat mesmerized by the crucible’s orange/yellow glow. (This was the first time his office assistant had actually seen Dino create, for which she seemed charmingly grateful). Diego explained some of the techniques and showed us some tools that his grandfather had used, which he still uses. This is a family business, with a secret glass recipe that has been handed down through the generations. Watching Dino and Diego work was eye opening.
A glob of molten clear glass was adeptly formed into a magnificent female nude, using all sorts of shaping tools, blow pipes, water, scissors, steel tables, wads of material. It is painstaking work. As the design develops, the piece often goes back to the fire through the “glory hole”, a small sized opening in the side of the furnace used for inserting cooling objects to reheat without melting or destroying their shape. Or, after a piece has cooled in the annealing oven, it may be broken and scrapped, like the heap we sat next to (it was horrifying that anything so lovely would be discarded but I remember having the same feeling when observing workers at Steuben Glass in New York State as they smashed a piece with any slight imperfection).
And then Dino and Diego were finished. Walking back through the steel and glass gate, I left their world of creativity and reentered the world of commerce in the galleries of Murano. I must admit, although I have had the wonderful opportunity through my work to spend time with many artists – obscure as well as famous – and witness the processes of their genius, this stood out as special! I really didn’t want to leave the uplifting sensation of being immersed in Dino and Diego’s creative force. There was a spiritual nature to the flurry of activity and dynamic energy generated to make tiny particles of sand into a work of art – that is the magic of glass sculpturing at its finest!
The furnace heats the glass
Dino begins to work with the glass
Dino and Diego work together to shape the glass
The figure begins to appear
Ready for initial seperation
Sculpting with fire
The final piece ready for annealing
A portion of the many works by Dino and Diego on display at his furnace
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