These two multicolored bowls would likely have been used to hold and mix cosmetics, perfumes and scented oils. They are examples of a technique known in modern times as millefiori (literally “thousand flowers”). In ancient times, however, these popular bowls were referred to as “mosaic” glass, because, like large mosaic floors and wall panels, they present a combination of many small pieces. Different color variations were explored in these bowls, celebrating the vibrant hues that are reminiscent of precious metals and gemstones, but also the fact that this kind of color fusion is possible only in glass.
The first stage of production involved cutting and arranging colored canes of glass into the desired pattern. Then, the glass was heated until the pieces fused together, and, then, the fused glass was draped into or over a bowl-shaped mold. After the bowl was removed from its mold, the interior would have been smoothed and polished in order to remove any imperfections caused by the mold.