When Angelo Orsoni set out for Paris in 1889, little could he have guessed at the success his courageous, original idea was to bring him. But this man of forty or thereabouts, with his strong, resolute air, was taking a crucial gamble. Orsoni aimed to show the world that a place of honor could be assigned to an ancient and noble medium- mosaic- within the vast enclosures of the Great Exhibition in Paris, alongside the most avant-garde techniques.
His success was enormous. His multicolored panel, which had been created as a sample collection of his smalti and mosaic gold, immediately acquired artistic status and was considered a sign of its maker’s genius. Never before had the world seen such a vast range of colors and shades in this traditional mosaic material. The enthusiasm with which it was received represented Orsoni’s first goal in a life dedicated to mosaic.
Once the precise annealing process has been completed, it is time for the preparation of the "tesserae" and every tessera created Orsoni is cut by hand! The large glass slabs are first sliced into rods with the aid of a diamond blade and then chipped down into small rectangles with the rhythmic strokes of old and rudimentary manually-operated cutting machines.
An entire chapter could be written about Orsoni’s mosaic gold: first and foremost, it is real 24-carat gold. It has to be the purest gold to withstand a firing and beating process that obtains the incredible results. With just one cubic centimeter of gold, more than six square meters of beaten gold may be produced in a layer so fine that it is scarcely perceptible to the human eye. The gold leaf is then sandwiched between a transparent glass base and a fine, hand-blown glass that protects the surface. The three elements, heated once again, are welded into a single slab that is free of cracks even in the most minute fragments. It is no surprise that Orsoni gold is the preferred material for the restoration of ancient mosaics.