Friday, August 21, 2009

More Stuff of Travel

Carlo Moretti Tumbler, 2002

My wife and I try to find some token piece of affordable artistic expression when we visit a new place. Sometimes it’s a drawing or small painting or something hand made. We came home from Paris one time with almost a bolt of fabric gathered from various shops around the Marché Saint Pierre.

In 1989 we came home from England with two carefully wrapped panes of flat bubble glass purchased from an commercial glazier near Stratford-on-Avon. We had no idea how we’d use it. We just liked it. (It took a decade for us to have a place where we could actually use it.)

You can tell what we treasure from our trips because it’s usually what we’re carrying on our laps or under our feet on the airplane. We’ll leave all sorts of routine valuables to the netherworld of checked luggage. But don’t you dare touch that fabric from Paris or the old photograph of farmers at Garsington Cottage that I bought at an antique stall in Oxford.

In Venice, it’s glass we look for. Not the gaudy horses and frilly sea serpents that recall Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie more than anything Venetian. We gravitate toward the smaller studios and look for things we can actually use. My wife found a quite simple and inexpensive glass bracelet that draws such attention that we could probably retire if we could remember where she got it and get some more to bring home to sell.

But more often our Venetian glass habit has been satisfied with drinking glasses. You know how some women melt when confronted with a soft blue Tiffany box? For us, it’s the sturdy orange-colored box from Salviati. If such a box finds its way into your life and you’ve got half a sense of design, you’re going to like whatever’s inside. I’m partial to these.

I’m the same about Carlo Moretti, whose shop on the Campo San Moisè is one of my favorites. If you’re like me and never thought you’d find yourself talking about door handles and drawer pulls, visiting the Moretti shop will change you into a door handling, drawer pulling freak.

Moretti’s not for you if your taste runs to dainty glass frills and curlicues. But if you like good proportions, clean, simple lines and boldly colored patterns on clear crystal glass, this is your place. My wife is beholding to a lot of antique dishes we’ve gathered over the years. They don’t do much for me. But I protect the Carlo Moretti tumblers as if they were my children.

Glassware from Salviati and Carlo Moretti can strain the idea of “affordable art.” But each is a masterpiece that delights the eye while also holding a good gin & tonic.

1 comment:

  1. I fell in love with lots of glass from Murano. I also have a simple bracelet that always gets comments, and I didn't spend much on it at all; it's just unusual and interesting. I remember your flickr photos of these tumblers--they're gorgeous! And I also always bring some small token back from a voyage. Sometimes, it might be something as plebian as a rock I liked, and picked up, but something comes back with me...