In Murano, Italy, “Nason basically means glass,” says Giovanni Nason, 72. His family has made and restored fine glass there since 1625.
The family received a title and crest from the doge of Venice to encourage them to stay on the island. But Giovanni fell in love with an American woman. After marrying in 1967, they moved to Washington.
Nason first ran a bath boutique in Rockville. On the side, he began doing glass engraving in Georgetown. He switched to restoration full-time 15 years ago; his firm, Glass and Crystal Restoration Center, is in Potomac.
“I got a big house and a mess everywhere,” says Nason, who works from his home. He started getting phone calls asking him to restore things such as a Seder plate, a Venetian glass mirror, and, in the case of Alice Blair, a family heirloom—a Christmas-tree topper.
The broken ornament, an eight-sided glass star with red and silver tendrils, had been in Blair’s family for 70 years—ever since her parents bought the antique in New York City—atop every Christmas tree. Two pieces of the star’s glass base were cracked, and three red tendrils were missing. Nason had his brother in Murano reblow them, and he reattached the parts.
When Nason finished the repair, Blair asked him to make three replicas; Nason plans to finish them by Christmas so Blair can give them as gifts to her three children.
“Glass is part of my blood,” Nason says. He says a repair person like him is called a maestro.
“There is a difference between maestro and artist,” he says. “The artist is the one who makes the piece. If you ask him to make another one, he cannot. But the maestro, if you show him the piece, he can make 20 like that.”
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