ABOVE: The Color Library at the Orsoni mosaic foundry, where colored glass is turned into tiny tiles. INSET BELOW "Peggy," a portrait of the late Peggy Guggenheim by Maestra Anntonella Gallenda, who teaches Master in Mosaic classes at Orsoni.
Orsoni, in Venice's sestiere or district of Cannaregio, has been an important source of glass mosaic tiles since 1888. More than 110 years after its founding, the foundry still crafts its tessere with fire, glass, pigment, and 24-karat gold. It also offers classes and accommodation in its own B&B, where mosaics are a prominent design theme.
A company spokeswoman writes:
"Entering through a
secluded garden, Orsoni is an oasis of artisan beauty. Over 2,000 colors
of mosaic smalti
are filed in the Color
Library, the used crucibles
display remnants of liquid rainbow batter, and the elegant Domus
Orsoni with each of its five unique bedrooms is a vision of
contemporary mosaic design. Orsoni is Italy's only artiturismo
(inspired by the Italian word artigiani for artisan),
providing the opportunity to experience an intimate, working Venice.
"Staying at Domus Orsoni allows a rare glimpse into the Orsoni
legacy that has existed in Venice for generations and impacted the
creation of mosaics
throughout the world.
"The Orsoni Master
in Mosaic classes originated by Honorary President Lucio
Orsoni and taught by Maestra Antonella Gallenda, provide an
immersion into the heart of Venetian artistry and culture. Students
from beginning hobbyists to professional artists use a traditional hammer
and hardie to cut the glass tesserae,
study andamento to create movement and choose from the
expansive Orsoni palette of colors to learn subtle shading techniques.
For architecture and design professionals, continuing-education units are
available through IIDA, ASID and IDEC.
"Whether visiting the foundry for a private tour (by appointment
only), staying as a guest at Domus Orsoni (beginning at Euro 80 per night) or
participating in a 3, 5 or 10 day mosaic class, the Orsoni artiturismo
is an authentic experience that brings a remarkable understanding to
Venice and the Byzantine beauty of San
"Information about the foundry and classes can be
found at www.orsoni.com.
More information about Domus Orsoni can be found at www.domusorsoni.com."
Editor's note: We intend to write an in-depth description of an Orsosi tour in due course, but in the meantime, we suggest reading Karen Henderson's account of her visit to the foundry.