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Flattery for Faience

Imitating ancient materials reveals lost manufacturing secrets

While students swarmed the halls at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology one Friday late last November, a dozen or so outsiders crowded into a small glass shop in the basement of Building 4. They were recapitulating the first steps of an ancient art. Standing around a workbench, their hands dusty and gray, the group listened to Carolyn Riccardelli, who gingerly patted at a pasty mixture that had the consistency of wet toothpaste.

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