8 years ago, I spent a week in Venice......Tanner Glass was just over a year old, and I was trying to find my place in the Glass world. I knew Venice would provide so much inspiration, but I had no idea how much. There were two places on the island of Murano that I could not miss visiting on this trip.
This is the story of the first place.....the home of Dino Tedeschi.
Dino made glass tools......the best glass tools (in my opinion). To buy them, you had to know someone who knew someone who knew Dino. Or you had to knock on his door. I chose the later option.
Armed with only a sketchbook, and a map (similar to the one pictured) I set out to find him. A daunting task.....as I don't speak Italian, and using a Murano map is about as effective as directions on finding a needle in a haystack.
Based on an address scribbled in my sketchbook, I managed to arrive at the doorstep of a toolmaker, named Dino. Wrong Dino. Through broken English and Italian, he directed me elsewhere.
Those directions landed me on the doorstep of a toolmaker, named Carlo Donna. Not Dino. But, I was getting closer. Carlo Donna was a leading toolmaker, spoke decent English, and knew Dino personally. I explained that I wanted to purchase some Dino jacks (his signature tool), and asked if he could help me.
He called Dino, told him what I was looking for, and gave me explicit directions to his doorstep.
I thanked him profusely, purchased a super sweet set of tweezers, and headed out to find Dino.
(as an aside, Dino speaks about 4 words of English, and I speak about 8 words of Italian. "Andiamo a sciare".......let's go skiing. Not terribley helpful in this situation).
I arrive at another doorstep, ring the bell, and the door is answered by a woman (Dino's wife). She is about 65 years old, little, and speaks no English. She invites me into their kitchen, sits me down at their table, and offers me some tea (I only know this because I said "si", and tea is what I was given).
Dino appears in the doorway, "ciao" is said all around, and he sits next to me and places 3 sets of Jacks on the table.
I picked out the ones I wanted. There was not a lot of talk, but there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on. It is amazing how well you can communicate without speaking. I managed to understand how much they cost......paid him, and was ready to say thank you, and good-bye, fully content with my purchase, and my experience thus far.
Not so fast.
He sits me back down, and places a small, red journal in front of me....and a pen.
*my heart is racing as I tell this part*
I open it, and quickly notice that this is a list of all the people that have sat right where I was sitting. Heavy hitters in the Glass world, from all over the world......had all sat at the same kitchen table, and purchased their Dino jacks. Some shared stories, some shared photos. It was amazing. Artists like Dante Marioni, Sonja Blumdahl, Lino Tagliopietra, and countless others. I was speechless.
And he wanted ME to sign that book? Um, okay.
I wish I could remember what I wrote (aside from my name and state). Regardless, the fact that I became part of that history is something that will stay with me forever.
I left the Tedeschi home, walked around the block, found a bench, sat down, and cried a little, as I was overwhelmed by what had just happenned.
I signed "the book."
It was at that moment, that I knew I was a glassblower.
(My Dino Jacks).
Sadly, Dino passed away a few years later. And his tools have become highly sought after.....
And these aren't for sale.