The mosaic making technique refers to a truly unique philosophy, in which colour plays the leading role.
While the painter works with tubes of paint, composing the desired shades to bring his artistic inspiration to life and the sculptor produces the forms suggested by his genius by modelling, removing and assembling material, the mosaicist is instead bound by an inflexible constraint: the possibility of capturing light and shadow, and hence the expressive result of any work is connected to the art of matching colours which are already formed and fixed for ever by fire.
This is why the master glassmaker’s expertise in preparing colour has the value of an artistic creation.
The fundamental elements of the mosaic are the same as for other vitreous pastes. In the crucible, a humble and patient pot created specifically to withstand over one thousand and three hundred degrees in the furnace, raw materials are melted and mixed to make the opaque white paste which forms the basis of the product.
However, the truly magical moment is the one in which colour is created. If we think that with just a few tens of raw materials we can obtain several thousand different colours, we can fully understand the deepest meaning of the fascination of this material. Naturally, just as other arts, the art of mosaic making has its secrets, its “recipes” which the Orsoni family has jealously guarded and handed down through four generations.
When the paste has been coloured and fired to the desired point, it is removed from the crucible. The incandescent mixture is then worked by a roller to obtain glass “slabs”. These are then placed in a special slow moving furnace in which they are gradually brought to room temperature. The slabs are then ready to be cut.
Nevertheless, the production of smalti is not the only difficult and intricate job performed in the furnace. The Orsoni furnace is also proud of its production of handcrafted mosaic gold.
Mosaic gold, which through the centuries has almost become the emblem of mosaic, is composed of three layers: a layer of extremely thin 24 carat white or yellow gold, sandwiched between two layers of glass, a very thin surface glass on top to protect the gold leaf, and a layer of glass of about 4 mm thick below.
Moreover, the possibility of obtaining different colour variants, thanks to the tones of the surface glass, further enhances the intriguing luminosity released by the combination of gold and glass.