Matteo Seguso, born in Venice in 1973, today one of the most talented engravers on glass in Murano, inherited his passion for the ancient art of engraving from his father, the master craftsman Bruno Seguso. Matteo, using a fixed lathe with interchangeable shafts and wheels, transforms glass into works of art encompassing a number of subjects - from floral to landscapes, from figurative to abstract, to the use of the “battuto” technique which creates beautiful geometric effects over the whole surface. Continually in search of new challenges and new experimentations, he encourages exchanging and sharing ideas and knowledge, and for many years he has taught the fascinating technique of engraving on glass.
Can you tell us your story?
I was born in Venice in 1973. My parents are from Murano and I have always lived on the island “of glass” par excellence. Dad was an engraver, I grew up surrounded by glass, but my career did not start straight away as an engraver. It was only in 1998 that I discovered this inclination of mine, when my father asked me if I wanted to try my hand at this art. So, officially, I have been sitting at the lathe since 1st January 1999. I started with great difficulty, but something then triggered off the spark and in a couple of years I fell madly in love with my job. Now, 21 years later, I still love my work. Over the years I have worked with many different people, including some who are very famous in the world of glass, and with various important companies and designers: this has allowed me to grow day by day. I keep on growing and learning, especially since 2010, when I started to hold courses on engraving and the “battuto” technique in Italy and in the rest of the world.
Being a MAM adds another important piece to my career. In my work, being acknowledged for seriousness and professionalism is very important, both for the image and for the spirit.
I think that being a “craftsman” is synonymous with freedom, manual skills, creativity, imagination, satisfaction and also, undoubtedly, sacrifice, effort and worries.
What does it mean to be a craftsman?
I think that being a “craftsman” is synonymous with freedom, manual skills, creativity, imagination, satisfaction and also, undoubtedly, sacrifice, effort and worries. If I had to weigh up these aspects, I am certain that what is positive would weigh more, compared to the difficulties of today.
What is the “battuto” technique? And how does it differ from the traditional technique of engraving on glass?
The “battuto” is a technique used on the surface of a glass object, originally to cover up the defects of the glass so that a discarded object could become suitable for the market. There is no “difference” for me, I think they are only two different interpretations. “Battuto” and engraving are both cold working processes, i.e. the glass is worked when it is already shaped. Both are done with the same movements and require the use of a grinding machine, of various sizes, shapes, material and grain, which rotates in a vertical position. A clear distinction does not exist because the techniques are often entwined; but we can say thatengraving reproduces designs, occupying only a part of the surface of the glass, while “battuto” normally covers the whole surface of the object with more or less regular patterns.
What is the battuto effect?
The effect that recalls beaten or hammered copper is called the battuto effect. It refers to all those patterns, geometric or not, which essentially cover the surface of the glass object. It can be done superficially by creating a velvety effect, or more deeply, regular or irregular, linear or casual, polished or not: there are no limits to the imagination of the master craftsman.
Is there a time (or are there times) that you recall with particular emotion?
Luckily, there have been many moments in my career that I recall with emotion. I could begin from the first day I sat at the lathe, with my father behind me, guiding me; this is an emotion which is still inside of me. I also remember well my emotion when I succeeded in completing my first work independently, or the first time when I arrived in the USA to hold a course on engraving, or when I had the chance to engrave in St Mark’s Square or at the Fish Market of Rialto in Venice. I would say that I have had no shortage of emotions in my work and it is still the same today.
What does a work have to have to be authentic?
To be authentic, a work has to be conceived and made principally by me and have a part of my personality. I have done many experiments and trials to try and invent something that was mine, something new or to try and interpret something my way. If I discovered that someone had done something similar or was going in the same direction as me, then I dropped the project because something that is copied has no personality.
What does being a “MAM” - Master of Arts and Crafts mean for you?
Being a MAM adds another important piece to my career. In my work, being acknowledged for seriousness and professionalism is very important, both for the image and for the spirit. I have received many national and international awards, but when a major Italian Foundation gives you a prize for excellence, it means that you are on the right path, that you have worked and sown your seeds well. Let me say that the MAM is a good harvest of what I have sown.