Working with Roman Glass

I was able to pick up a small lot (46g) of roman glass shards (4
pieces total). 1 piece is flat with a bit of a curved rim which is
probably the bottom of a vessel, the second piece is also a curved
rim only and looks like the lip of a vessel. These two pieces are
rather thick. The other 2 are thin and quite curved and maybe the
walls of other vessels.

I was told by the supplier that I can use a glass cutter to cut the
glass but now I wonder… (My questions are)

Is a glass cutter the best thing to use?

What would you use to shape the glass?

Is it best to cut the glass into smaller pieces to reduce the
curvature and then make a mosaic.

If you do make a mosaic what would you set it in - epoxy

If pieces have the curve (either cut or not cut into smaller
pieces), would you back the glass with a stabilizer - epoxy or other
material (and what?)

What other got-cha’s should I be aware of?

Thanks in advance
Adventures of an Aspiring Silversmith

You might want to think about designing around the glass shards as
is–to reduce the chance of anything dire happening to them. You
don’t want to get them wet or cut off any of the wonderful
iridescence. I would use 22k–soft enough so you won’t have to put
too much pressure on the glass. (In fact, I did use 22k for a rather
big piece–it looked great.)

i don’t know about epoxies on roman glass–but i would guess in very
small and careful amounts it would be ok for stabilization.

I have a bunch of very small shards (found on ebay)–I plan to bezel
them in fine silver or 22k. If possible, I might think about a black
background to enhance the iridescence. (kind of like with a small
opal that’s a bit pale.)


Since we are talking about Roman glass, I have been trying to get
hold of some nice iridescence patina Roman glass. Where is every one
getting their glass? I have done a search and haven’t been able to
find any raw unset pieces. I want to have a nice piece to make a
pendant for myself.

I do know that you can’t get the glass wet since it changes the
patina, so I would try and work with the glass as is.

Roxan O’Brien

Ancient glass tends to devitrify which makes cutting it almost
impossible. At best you can rub a diamond file over the edges to
reduce sharpmess which will reduce the chance of the glass cutting
into the bezel. It was a popular conservation technique in the 70’s
and early 80’s to use epoxies to stabilise old glass but that has
lead to terrible problems now so best dont.

There are very special techniques for stabilising ancient glass but I
doubt if these can be done in a home environment. The Victoria and
Albert Museum in London has a conservation dept that ahs done good
work on this type of thing, along with David McPhail from Imperial
College dept of Materials. If you really want to go for it in a big
way look at some of the papers written by his group.

Nick Royall


Thanks for the input but how would you get the “black” on the back. I
have put an acrylic backing on rough when making a cab but, again,
with the curved surface it would be hard to get it to form to the
glass unless is was poured on.

Any would be appreciated.

Adventures of an Aspiring Silversmith

I think if you search the internet, you will find links to sources
for Roman glass.

As for providing a black background–if the glass is set into any
kind of bezel, just put a piece of black paper between the glass and
the metal.


I bought my glass from a local jeweler - Avi Odeni, who I have been
acquainted with since 1986, when I bought some jewelry from him. He
has a booth at the San Diego County (Del Mar) Fair. His booth is
located is next to the booth for the Volunteers For Minerals, which
I work in on Saturdays (while the fair is on) - The fair is now over
and the glass I bought was gift to me!

His website is and you can purchase it from the

If you want to call Avi, the telephone number is 888-551-4233

Adventures of an Aspiring Silversmith