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Image ID: 337
Title:Thin sheet of glass for making gold leaf mosaic tesserae
Source:Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn Archives, Bryn Athyn, PA
Medium:35mm slide
Description: When a very thin sheet of glass was needed for encasing gold leaf used in mosaic or tiles for Glencairn, a large glass bubble was blown out and then cut into smaller sheets. “Now we come to another part which was one of the most difficult parts to figure out of this whole work. This is the gold mosaic, and that’s a sheet of 23 karat gold leaf fused between a piece of glass, 3/8 of an inch thick, and then over the gold itself—a sheet of glass as thin as the wall of a Christmas tree ornament. To make this very thin glass, we’d blow out a big bubble like you see here, and then that had to be cut up and flattened out. Well you can’t cut a Christmas tree ornament, with a steel glasscutter. But I found out that I could cut this with a diamond, so I would cut it up into pieces, about 5 inches square. And of course they would be concave, so we’d put them on a paddle, and put it into the glory hole, and flatten it out on a sheet of asbestos. Then I would take these home with me, and on a Sunday afternoon I’d sit in my dining room table, chase the kids out, and I’d spend the whole afternoon floating this gold leaf onto that thin glass” (Gunther, Ariel. Transcript of Bryn Athyn glassmaking lecture. Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn Archives, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania).