Research and Special Projects

Research in RISD Glass takes many different forms, from special studio courses, to semester-long sequences in the Hotshop, to extended work with visiting artists.


Alchemy: Making Ruby Glass

This fall RISD Glass is partnering with Pamela Smith of The Making and Knowing Project, Columbia University, and Dedo Von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk, of the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany, to reconstruct 16th century alchemical recipes to produce gold ruby glass. 

The recipes come from an anonymous manuscript, Ms. Fr.  640 ,  an intriguing sixteenth-century compilation of very diverse technical recipes that, among many other things, includes instructions for imitation gems made from colored glass.  The Making and Knowing Project, part of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University, has reconstructed these recipes in order to gain insight into the aims of the manuscript's author-practitioner, the materials and techniques of sixteenth-century craftspeople, and the very long tradition of imitating gems in colored glass. 

The collaboration between the RISD Glass Studio and the Making and Knowing Project aims to understand the manuscript's recipes in the context of the long search for the "glass of the alchemists" - a deep ruby red glass - that the author of Ms. Fr. 640 tried (and failed) to produce.


Collaborators include:  

Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History, Director of the Center for Science and Society and members of the Making and Knowing Project, Dedo Von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk, Director of the Glasmuseum Hentrich at the Museum Kunstpalast in Dusseldorf, Clyde L. Briant: Otis E. Randall University Professor and Professor of Engineering at Brown University, and RISD Glass faculty and students.