Collection by Jordan Kushins

The Foundry at Domus Orsoni

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While in Italy checking out the latest in tiles at Cersaie in Bologna, we took a day to train over to Venice and roam the waterways and were given the opportunity to visit the only foundry in the city: Domus Orsoni. Here's what we saw at the 122-year-old establishment and hub of mosaic magic.

The foundry at Domus Orsoni was opened in 1888 by Angelo Orsoni, and his great-grandson, Lucio, has carried on the…
Smalti is a specialized glass used in many mosaics, made from a mixture of sand, soda, stabilizing compounds and…
There are 2800 colors in the Orsoni color library—100 of them are standard, and the rest made exclusively for clients…
When these large, "pizza" slabs are cut into smaller smalti tesserae, it's actually the interior edge—not the large…
Bags and bags of brightly-colored smalti fill up the floor space of the color library. Once they’re in this form,…
In the foundry, a thin layer of gold leaf is laid out before it is placed on a conveyor belt and covered with molten,…
After a gold leaf layer is laid on the conveyor, this man drops a dollop of molten glass atop. Together, they are…
Here, the piastre di oro da spelare are flipped over and laid out flat to cool.
A jewel-toned pile of piastre di oro da spelare.
A woman scores each fired slab, then taps off the rounded edges with a steel chisel called a martellina. The grooved…
Each 3/4-inch-square tessera is cut by hand on a machine that was adapted by a traditional sewing machine.
Antonella Gallenda has been working with Lucio since she was 16 years old. She teaches mosaic classes at the foundry…
Opulence: This has it. Above the ground floor gallery and offices, Domus Orsoni is a full-service bed and breakfast.…
Gondoliers taking a quick minute to relax, catch up, and read the paper.
A canal-level view from the water taxi in a city not designed for the easily seasick.
In Italia, the horned cows say ‘MU!’ This strange—and strangely enthusiastic—beast was my favorite bit of street art in…
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