Article ID: CBB558591304

Materials, Furnaces, and Texts: How to Write About Making Glass Colours in the Seventeenth Century (2020)


Johann Kunckel's Ars Vitraria Experimentalis (1679) is arguably the most important text on seventeenth-century glassmaking. As an augmented German translation of Italian (1612) and English (1662) editions, Kunckel presented a complex and layered text that contained a plethora of recipes, elaborate commentaries and annotations, and various appendices dealing with glass-related technologies and arts. We reworked four recipes for rosichiero glass (a transparent red glass) in Kunckel's book to discover what strategies Kunckel employed to help readers engage with the recipes and to make the recipes work in the specificity of their own workshop. We learned that Kunckel regularly neglected to test the Italian recipes, and that not all of his corrections are improvements, thereby specifying our understanding of the “codification of error” as a strategy to write down colour-making knowledge. Instead, Kunckel made the choice to educate his readers on the very mechanisms of glass colouring to allow them to intervene to influence the colour of the glass and to gain further control over the making process. He argued that the colour of glass is sensitive to the manner in which ingredients are sourced and processed, and emphasised the importance of furnace management in optimising the colour of glass.

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Authors & Contributors
Schulze, Gerhard
Rau, H. Günter
Turner, Gerard L'Estrange
Moretti, Cesare
Tommasi Ferroni, Sabina
Salerno, Carlo Stefano
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Technology and Culture
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of Toronto
State University of New York at Binghamton
Glass and glassmaking
Materials science
Crafts and craftspeople
Science and art
Kunckel von Loenstern, Johann
Ferdinando II, Grand-Duke of Tuscany
Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Abu Musa, Al-Tusi
Galilei, Galileo
Benedetti, Giovanni Battista
Biancani, Giuseppe
Florence (Italy)
Central Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Tuscany (Italy)
17th century
18th century
19th century
16th century
Early modern
Accademia del Cimento, Florence
Corning Museum of Glass

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