A Broken Pontiff?

In honour of the Pope’s visit to Great Britain this week, I thought I’d post this. Browsing eBay one evening last week, I came across a rather interesting piece of studio glass. The seller had described it correctly up to the point where he or she mentioned the fact that it had a ‘broken pontiff’ mark on the base.
Rather than a damaged Benedict XVI, I presume that they meant a broken pontil mark. Shown here on the base of an Italian filigrana vase, this mark is left during the production process when the piece is snapped off a solid iron rod known as a pontil rod.
After a piece of glass has been blown and manipulated to the desired size and shape on a blowing iron, the pontil rod is attached to the base of a piece whilst it’s still hot using a blob of molten glass. The blowing iron is then snapped off what will become the top of the piece. This allows the rim, and possibly others parts, to be opened up and finished off. Once this has been done, the rapidly cooling and increasingly brittle piece is gently ‘knocked’ off the pontil rod into a lehr oven, allowing it to cool properly. The area where the pontil rod was attached to the base of the piece is thus left rough and sharp – as in the image. Sometimes this is polished away when the piece has cooled, or else another blob of glass may be added to which a company motif may be impressed.
Dweeby, I know, but it made me giggle.

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