LA GIOJA di Susanna Martini, Murano Glass Jewellery in Modena

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There is something so incredible about walking into the beautiful jewellery boutique La Gioja, by artisan Susanna Martini. Located in Modena’s historic centre along the narrow cobblestone road, Via Cesare Battisti, you will find it 5 minutes away from Modena’s UNESCO World Heritage sites; the Duomo, the Piazza and the Ghirlandina Tower.

 

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Susanna Martini at work in her bottega LA GIOJA in Modena, Italy.

 

When I first met Susanna, her business and life partner Corrado and their adorable dog Ciro, I knew there was something incredible about them. They opened their store just over a year ago and their ever-growing success is notable.  In fact, at Christmas they had a beautiful party to celebrate their anniversary, and if you get a chance to visit in December the atmosphere is wonderful.

 

 

 

Susanna creates one of a kind jewellery pieces in Murano glass and I am so happy to share her story and a bit about her art today with this article, part of HAND MADE – The Artisan Series on Reasons to Dress.

 

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A Moment of Life

 

If you ask Susanna where she gets inspiration for her breathtaking work she’ll say that every piece is an expression of life.  She filters her emotions when she gets “behind the flame” and each good and bad day is reflected in a piece of jewellery.

Personally, I would have never guessed that you could do so much with glass jewellery, however, a few moments in La Gioja proves me wrong.  Everyday there are new pieces created, each one different from the next in its form, color and expression.  She divides her work into collections based on their inspiration, such as a season, a phrase or an emotion.

 

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Corrado and Susanna describe a beautiful spring day when they took their bikes into the countryside and the fields were filled with little purple flowers.  As soon as she got home she sat at her workspace behind the flame and interpreted pale purples and lilacs into a new jewellery collection.

 

 

“Stare al fuoco.  Tutto nasce quando mi siedo lì”

 “Everything is born in the moment when I sit behind the flame.”

 

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The “Summer” necklace.

 

The Art of Murano Glass Jewellery – Expression is not Tradition

 

You may not realize how avant guard Susanna is in her art until you do a bit of investigating into this ancient art form. There is a very traditional schematic way in Murano, Italy (home of Murano glass) for working this precious material into jewelry.  A precision that almost removes all emotion.  Every bead produced should be “perfect” and identical to the next, and any variation of this is seen as an opposition to the canon of this art.

 

And then, along comes revolutionary Susanna, who, after her formal “classical” training, deviated from the canonical way of creating Murano glass jewellery to create her own expressive art.

In her own words she describes it like this:

“If I follow the traditional schematic way of working nothing new can be born.”

 

 

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Corrado and Susanna are a team, and it is easy to see the connection between their solid relationship and her daring art form. He pushes her to explore and extend her limits, and supports her when she’s done something completely outside of the norm, thus giving her a sense of freedom to explore without fear.

 

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Susanna Martini – Expression through Glass

 

The day Susanna knew she wanted to work Murano Glass into jewellery her life changed.  At the time, she was working as an interior and special events designer in Trieste while beginning to dabble in the creation of custom bijoux. Working with jewelry came so easy to her, but she was frustrated by the lack of control she had, limited by the beads and materials that were commercially available.

 

On a Friday morning she had the revelation that with Murano glass she could create her own beads and forms in any colour imaginable.  Three days later, she was taking a master class in Murano (Venice, Italy) and has since completed training with some of the World’s most renowned instructors in the classical field.

 

 

“Finally, I could create and see what I was imagining.  I believe that jewellery can represent anything, even a dream.

 Now, I am able to interpret my sensations and those of my clients.  Once, I created a pair of glass cufflinks for a mother who wanted to give something inspirational to her son for his graduation.  Inspired by a book, each cufflink had a seagull flying.  In one cufflink he was nosediving down which represented the risks the mother wanted her son to take.  In the other he was shooting up to the sky to inspire him to always go after his goals.  

Many times I’ve had clients tear up, unable to believe that I was able to interpret their feelings”

 

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Precious but not Delicate

 

One of the things that struck me the most was Corrado’s description of the delicacy of Susanna’s work.  I would think that glass would be highly breakable and difficult to ship, but it is the contrary.

 

Corrado describes it as delicate as a luxury watch or any piece of valuable jewellery.  You should be aware of it, but it doesn’t interfere with your daily life.  Even their glass keychains are robust enough to handle daily use.  I personally own a few of Susanna’s pieces and I am surprised at how much they hold up to daily life and never loose their beauty.

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A 5 strand necklace from the “Stone” collection.

MUTINA { unforgettable }

 

As I mentioned before, Susanna divides her work into different collections based on her inspiration for each.  One of my absolute favourite collections is named after the ancient Roman word for Modena, “MUTINA”, founded in 183 B.C. on an Etruscan settlement. It embodies the traditions of this territory and is inspired by one of the World’s most ancient condiments, balsamic vinegar.

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Here, a single drop of thick balsamic vinegar drips slowly down.  She’s beautifully captured the long moment of waiting for balsamic vinegar, which, contrary to what you may have tasted in the past, is as thick as molasses and is actually a deep ruby red.

 

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Soon I will be sharing the story of the Acetaia Malagoli Daniele, one of the few producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.   You will also have a chance to win a luxury prize package featuring a bottle of traditional Balsamic Vinegar D.O.P. and a jewellery set from Susanna Martini’s MUTINA collection featuring a pendant necklace, drop earrings and the matching key chain (Valued at 145 Euro).

 

What to do in Modena, Italy

If you find yourself in Modena and are looking for an authentic experience then I highly recommend a visit to La Gioja di Susanna Martini.  One of the best keepsakes and souvenirs from any vacation is a piece of jewellery as each time you wear it you will be reminded of your vacation! Not to mention how wonderful it is when someone asks “Where did you get that?” and you can answer “I bought it from an artist in Italy!”

 

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Her pieces are affordable enough to gift (simple rings and bracelets range from 15 – 25 Euro each).  And if you are looking for a one of a kind statement necklace there is no limit to the selection!  She also has his and hers matching sets for special occasions including necklaces and matching cufflinks.  Or her famous “Vortice” Vortex work featuring bold rings of colour.

 

Visiting & Info

 

La Gioja di Susanna Martini

http://www.lagioja.com/

Via Cesare Battisti 38, Modena, italy

+39 059 8756488

 

You can find La Gioja di Susanna Martini on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

 

Opening hours:

9 am – 1 pm open

1 pm – 3:30 closed for lunch

3:30 pm – 7:30 pm open each day but Thursday afternoons, when all stores in Modena are closed.

View Larger Map

 

This article is part of HAND MAND – The new series dedicated to Italian Artisans on Reasons to Dress.  Visit the other posts in this series, including a profile on textile artisan Cecilia Lugli and the bottega La Vacchetta Grassa.

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  • Very pretty! It’s all so unique!

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    • I agree, I think that’s what makes it so special, the fact that it is not industrial and each piece is one of a kind.

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  • Beautiful pieces! I love the design on the sandals, making the pair a unique one! Hi, Angie, thanks so much for dropping by my blog, grazie mille! Coincidentally, my husband is an Italian from Roma. It must be a great experience for you to be an expat in Modena. I would love to join your link up next Tuesday, will not miss it. I’ve followed you on BL and Instagram just to make sure 😉

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    • Me too! the Sandals are my favourites! I would love to have you on Tuesday and I will be following you as well! So nice to meet you!

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  • eileen gunn

    Beautiful, and how fun to see a woman artisan. You presume all the glassblowers are men.

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    • I JUST wrote about this a few days ago. I met my first female leather artisan which was quite shocking for me. Surprisingly there are a LOT of woman entrepreneurs and artisans in Italy.

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  • contented traveller

    Amazing. I am always in awe of people with such talent and a real eye for art.

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  • Wow, what lovely designs! So cool that you got to see them being made 🙂

    Away From The Blue

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  • Mindy Bel

    Such an exquisite work! I would really like to have one of the pieces for myself!

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  • Thank you for sharing her story! It’s inspiring and interesting to read about talented artists like Susanna who bring in so much creativity into the world with their innovative work everyday.

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  • Corinne C

    What a great feature, those pieces are all lovely. There’s nothing better than having a unique hand made piece 🙂

    Corinne x
    http://www.skinnedcartree.com

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  • Susanna’s work is gorgeous. I like her Summertime necklace and the one you picture at the end with all the concentric circles. That story of the cufflinks is wonderful. I like how she incorporated so much symbolism into what I’m sure was a beautiful work. I think I’d be a bit worried about breaking the glass, so it’s nice to know that it’s durable. My daughter loves aged balsamic vinegar, and I thought the pendant truly looked like a drop that’s about to fall.

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    • Michelle thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. Today I dropped by GLASS keychain and there wasn’t a scratch on it which was such a relief! I will let you know when I host the giveaway for the vinegar and necklace so you can enter on behalf of your daughter….who obviously has very good taste!!

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  • Stunning. What a fabulous find #weekendwanderlust

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  • Lindsay O

    The “MUTINA” collection is stunning.

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  • This is precisely why I think Italy will make a ‘comeback’. Finally with nothing to lose (that sounds a bit desperate but I think you know what I mean) Italian artists are ready to step out from behind tradition and reinvent their arts. I’m a huge lover of traditional and always will find the beauty in century old art with a focus on perfection – but that other side of me loves the exotic and new born from something recognizable but updated.

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    • Yes and YES. I also love “traditional” and the old fashioned way, but I agree that there is something invigorating about taking it to the next level. There is space for both, and I think if Italian artisans are going to survive they need to reinvent themselves in some way.

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  • I definitely think that every collection is different and can appeal to every aesthetic. And thank you for taking the time to comment!

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  • I will be sure to pass on the compliment Sandra, thank you!

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  • Astra next week I am hosting a giveaway for the Mutina collection, please feel free to stop by and enter!

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  • That Mutina collection is just beyond beautiful. You really do fine the most amazing fashion-mus-haves!

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  • Zaz

    Wonderful series Angie, and glass blowing is such an expressive, sensual art, how wonderful that she was able to break away from the confines of the traditional methods, and infuse each piece with such beauty and creativity. The story about the cufflinks for a son’s graduation really moved me. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutYou x

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  • Happinessatmidlife

    Wow- these pieces are gorgeous!! I remember going to Murano years ago as a poor college student and I can recall is watching the glass blowers but don’t recall any jewelry artist. Thank you for joining TBT Fashion link up and hope to see
    you Thursday.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

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  • She is so talented! I would have never guessed that glass jewelry could be so strong and unique.

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  • Everything is so unique! What a talent!

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  • Katherin Córdova

    Everything is so beautiful! What a talent!

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  • Rust

    I love one of a kind jewelry pieces. These are beautiful!

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  • Judy Thomas

    I love the pieces!They are truly beautiful.

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  • Veronica Murroni

    Really a beautiful place to go! Art is in their eyes!

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  • Great post, great jewellery indeed!

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  • The Crowded Planet

    Wow! Love the look of these pieces, I’m a big fan of bold necklaces and these look right up my alley, especially the necklace with round beads that look like candies. I’m really surprised to hear they don’t break. I’ve never bought glass jewelry for this reason, but I think I might start! 🙂

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  • Tina Ivanisevic

    So beautiful…

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  • BaileyDexter

    What great statement pieces! Love all of them!

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  • Her pieces look absolutely lovely! The 5-strand “stone” necklace is my fave.

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