Dear Readers,

As you may have seen elsewhere, in mid February my wife and I suffered the loss of our home in a fire, in the hills of central Massachusetts. The good news is that we got out safely and had no animals in our care at the time. The fire crews were able to contain the fire from spreading, in what turned into a 3-alarm, 5-hour-long ordeal in subzero temperatures; they did amazing work, and no one was injured. The bad news is that all of my physical historical materials and research of 30 years have gone up in smoke. As a result I have decided to suspend this blog for the time being. It will remain online as a resource for those interested in the history of glass and glassmaking in the seventeenth century and beyond. I do intend to resume writing when I can, but for now my time and energy are required in getting us back on our feet.

Friends are providing temporary shelter for us nearby and our intention is to rebuild as soon as possible. To those who have reached out with a steady hand, to those who have opened their wallets, and offered advice in our time of need, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. In what are already difficult times for all of us, you have made a huge difference in our lives.

Paul Engle
6 March, 2021

Friday, August 23, 2013


MS Ferguson 67, f. 14r.
University of Glasgow Special Col.
Throughout his book on glassmaking, Antonio Neri is able to give clear technical instructions, but here and there are passages that give us a deeper view into his life, his work and the poetry of making glass. From L’Arte Vetraria:

Always examine the colors to get to know them by eye, as I have always done, because in this matter I cannot give specific doses. Sometimes the powder will tint more, other times less, therefore you must practice with your eyes to understand the colors.-chap. 95.
Do not presuppose that I have described a way to make something ordinary, but rather a true treasure of nature, for the delight of kind and curious spirits.-chap. 133.
…Perform this operation under a large chimney and when the fumes begin to assault you, it is best to leave the room. This smoke is most injurious and could be deadly; therefore you should see that no one inhales it in any way, because it would do very great damage. When all fumes pass, you should nevertheless leave the crucibles in a low fire, until it goes out completely. -chap. 73.
When working this glass use the same diligence that the skilled masters use and in so doing you will make material that is perfectly true to the jasper, agate and chalcedony of the orient. It will be adorned with so many graceful and beautiful areas of undulations and enhanced with the play of diverse, lively, flaming colors, that truly it will seem nature cannot attain so great a height or grand a prize. -chap. 37.
If you want to have fine crystal, then in this you must exercise great diligence; when the frit is made with careful attention, it will be white and pure like snow from heaven. -chap. 2.
As the common proverb of the art of glassmaking says: a fine sieve and dry wood bring honor to the furnace. - chap. 8.
In closing, I say that the artisan who is diligent, practical and works step by step, as I describe, will find truth in the present work. - Preface

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