Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Glass (Vetro)

In deciding on a Venice itinerary for this fall, I made plans to stop by the famous Domus Orsoni in sestiere Cannaregio. This place makes the best glass pieces for mosaics, and is also famous for their gold leaf crystal. They have nice rooms to stay in, but there are more luxurious places with balconies and terraces on the Grand Canal.

But check out the great golden shower you can get in guest room four at Domus Orsoni...

I used some of this same 24k Orsoni gold leaf glass in some 3" mosaics I'm making for the new pool to be constructed. The contractor asked if I wanted 'step spotting' tiles so drunk uncoordinated visitors wouldn't fall whilst getting into or out of the pool. Being the hands-on type of guy I am, I decided to make several small mosaics as 'step spotting' tiles and just have those set in instead of boring one color tiles. I'd cover the whole bottom of the pool myself if I had the time, but I want to do the decking and probably carve some statues in carrara marble. So, maybe I'll just let that 'ultimate mosaic' pool part of the dream go for now.

Here is one of the mini-mosaics using gold Orsoni glass, marble and a bit of porpyry in a picture taken from atop a ten story parking garage downtown to make it more dramatic. *dramatic music plays*

Glass making in the Venice area has a long and profitable history. It has been made there for around 1000 years. From master craftsman to apprentice, the secret recipes of silica, lime, sodium oxide, arsenic, nitrate and coloring agents (or manganese oxide in the case of clear glass) in just the right proportions and in the correct order of processing have been handed down.

One of the Venice glass companies, Barovier & Toso, was formed in 1295 AD. They probably have one of the oldest corporate websites in the world too.

Hopefully, after Luciana's class in Ravenna this Fall, mosaic making with glass and smalti won't be so foreign to me compared with stone and marble. I tried using Leponitt cutters for the first time on the gold glass pieces on Sunday, and it was difficult. Leponitts are spring loaded pliers with two glass cutting wheels that come together to score the glass. Of course, I was using them more like tile nippers, handily crushing the glass underneath.

If you want to check out a modern glass artisan, go to Valerie's blog because she knows more about it than I ever will. Maybe I can pay Valerie to kiln up some smalti so I don't have to lug back 100kg of glass on the plane?

Does anyone else like the iridescence that occurs on ancient Roman glass? After thousands of years, some of the elements such as copper based impurities float to the surface of the glass giving it the rainbow and shimmer effect. It always amazes me that there is so much Roman glass left, what with glass being breakable and the ancients living with stone floors. Maybe it's thicker?

Ho fatto i mosaici per i scale della piscina. Usato lo smalti oro di Orsoni, lo spero non rende ciechi a causa del sole.


  1. I shamefacedly admit that I was surprised at a museum exhibit a few years ago to find out Romans even had glass, I don't know why it never occurred to me that they would. I really liked the Roman glass that I've seen.

    Holy crap that hotel room view is incredible. And I think the gold glass makes the step mosaics pop in an awesome way.

  2. I want to live in that hotel. I bet it's not cheap! :) Especially in ITALY of all places.

    Hee, you totally said "golden shower".

    I love mosaic tiles. I can only imagine how wonderful YOUR pool is going to look.

  3. That's the only kind of golden shower I'd be interested in.

  4. Aw they beat me to the golden shower comments!

    Valerie will make you whatever glass you need, she told me she would since the nights are so cold in santas backyard.

    Very nice eric, as usual.

  5. Wow, that's some view up there and the golden shower is someting else. Just makes you think of decadent, water-wasting, irresponsible showers.

    And do you want to know the real reason why there is so much Roman glass left?

    The women were expected to be perpetually pregnant so they just didn't have the time or the energy to throw bottles or vases at their husbands.

  6. I was reading your post and I'm like yeah... this is right up my alley... and then you mentioned me! I am too flattered for words, of course I would make anything I possible could... and I'm going to learn some stained glass this fall

  7. Oh I forgot to say, I highly recommend checking out the Vetrofond factory outside of Venice. Here's a quick post about it
    and all the cool metallic effect glass is made by Double Helix in Washington state.

    Your post has got me all excited, can you tell?

  8. I wonder if the Roman who swigged some Vinum De Table out of a bottle ever thought future generations would treasure their container?

    I'm going to treat my Fanta bottle with a little more reverence from now on.

  9. Your mini-mosaic somehow reminded me of the Olypic games, probably because you were on top of a parking garage, holding what looks like a golden cup in your hand triumphantly ;)

    That golden shower looks like something out of an Usher music video and that of course means: lots of semi naked ladies drooling over a singing man, how appropriate it being a shower and all. You should consider that image, Eric.

    Mi piace la sintesi alla fine; il tuo italiano sembra pronto per l'Italia! Hanno un grande giorno :)

  10. I was looking at the first picture and thinking..."wow, PRETTY! I'd love to go to Venice. That lucky bastard...he better take more pictures and..."

    Then I read 'great golden shower' and I lost my train of thought.

    Such is the life of a pervert.

    You know, you could always pull a Martha Stewart and tile it with credit cards. Cha ching.

  11. That bathroom is RIDICULOUS. Does the bidet shoot champagne??

  12. Is it that the impurities are bubbling up to the surface after 2000 years? Or are they oxidizing slowly? Just a curious secondary thought.

  13. Soda,
    I have just been surprised that glass could last for thousands of years intact.
    This Fall, I'll be staying at a hotel with views very similar to that one. Have I mentioned how much I love Venice? :)

    Vegetable Assassin,
    I recently reserved two rooms with a view on the Grand Canale in an upscale hotel, and yes, it is pricey - but well worth it because Venezia is great!
    I did say golden shower, didn't I? Oh, the things I'll do for a cheap laugh...
    If you use good materials on mosaics, they can look so ancient. I also like walking barefoot over them, but my feet are clean so it's ok.

    : ) I knew I could count on you to comment about that. Did the offices of CNNfn have golden showers?

    Mr. Condescending,
    Thanks! Hopefully Valerie can use Santa to save me money on shipping. Some glasses are very heavy.

    Dutch Donut Girl,
    I love a good view on Venice. I also enjoy irresponsible showers (mine has two shower heads).
    Have you ever seen the neat-o irresponsible Jacuzzi ones with about 15 water jets? It's like a hot tub that you stand up in for showering...
    I like your Roman glass theory, you may be on to something there.

    I'm always amazed by people like yourself that can work in glass. About the closest I ever got to that was making chemistry set glassworks when I was ten.
    I can send some money for materials and a recipe if you will have access to a kiln.
    One archaeologist from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts emailed me that the sky blue 'stone'
    frequently seen in Roman mosaics from France and Syria is actually a very opaque glass, and not blue jasper or limestone as I thought it was originally. I also like all the smalt type glass for portraits in mosaic. And thanks for the Frantz site link. I'll be stopping by Mestre, so I might be able to buy a few samples.
    Glass is exciting, so many artistic possibilities...

    The Jules,
    Hahaa! Yes, especially revere the Fanta bottle if it's the Fanta Fruit Twist (Orange, Peach and Passion Fruit). Can't say the same for the Amarna Fanta (Italy).

    :) Yes, I achieved my parking goals, so I victorously hold up the golden mosaic Cup of Parking, lol.
    Thanks, I think the trip will be fun. Getting the last of the apartments / hotels this week.
    Considering the image...
    Still considering the image...

    In Autumn, it is so wonderful there. Well, except for that time the garbage workers went on strike.
    Besides the architecture and atmosphere of the place, I just love all the history.
    Think about how many artifacts have been dropped into the lagoon or under foundations of palazzos for the past 1200 years just waiting for discovery.
    Heh, I left the shower comment in there as a test...
    Credit cards? I have not thought about that, very creative!

    It is decadent, isn't it? I've stayed in many a hotel with bidets, but cannot bring myself to use one. Ever. That is just a TMI Thursday story waiting to happen if I tried...

    I need to read more on the chemistry of glass. Some were saying glass is a liquid, no it's a solid, no it's a crystal with properties of both.
    You are probably right, it is oxidizing, but the large amount of iridescence makes me wonder whether the elements move within the glass at all over thousands of years.
    On average, surely the components of the glass were evenly dispersed when it was first created. I'll have to ask Valerie what her thoughts are on this.

  14. I hate that you're really going on my fantasy holiday. I bet you don't even buy any shoes while you're there.


  15. What a gorgeous holiday. Have the best time. And I will refrain from any golden shower comments since all of our other friends raced to that finish for me above. LOL.

  16. How cool would your pool be if you hand laid the whole thing?

    I love that shower...I want to go on your trip, I think.

    No, I definitely do.

  17. P.S.
    That crazy guy didn't jump on the highway this morning. I mean, how SELFISH! I was late to work because some loser needed attention. Grr...I'm STILL mad.

    If he was going to really jump, he would have done it in the middle of the night...or in a location that he couldn't be stopped in.

    Dude...i'm really mad...and that was over 12 hours ago!

  18. P.P.S.
    I'm really mad b/c I hate being inconvenienced. And I hate it when people waste my time.

  19. wow, you must be getting so excited about your trip. Your pool sounds amazing, but I'd probably be the one who'd need the step spotting for klutzes. When I win the lottery, I want you to do it, okay? Or maybe a table? set of coasters? Photos! Photos! I love Venice, but have never stayed anywhere with a balcony on the Grand Canal. Can't wait to hear all about it :)

  20. Soda,
    Are you sure you don't want to go? There is probably a pull out couch or something in most of the places. :)
    I don't know, I might buy some shoes if they have the equivalent of my John Varvatos shoes if less than 500 USD (personal shoe limit, haha).

    Thanks, everyone who appreciates art and architecture should stay in Venice at least once. I think I want to live there.
    :) Yes, I was wondering how many would comment on the shower.

    I'm industrious, but not enough to do the whole pool in mosaic, but I'd love the result of all that work.
    Yes, that jumper guy was an idiot just looking for attention. There are locations that people can jump, I think they are called lakes and cliffs. Just relax though, the weekend is almost here.

    Yes I'll go to Italy and Venice for any reason. Maybe I'll leave an umbrella there or something so I'll need to go back and stay for a week or two to get it.
    Ok, when you win the lottery, I'll marble and 24k gold mosaic tile your pool.
    Don't worry about photos, I'll follow your excellent example of you blog posts on France and Florence (that was so great).

  21. That shower looks like something out of a Bond film. Amazing!