The charm and magical alchemy of glass fascinates and captivates many. Glass is not just a material, but a passion and a love for it. It was this love and passion that captivated Leo Valentin Pantocsek, born in Kielce, Poland in 1812. He came to Hungary as a young man and graduated as a medical doctor at the University of Pest, but never practised his profession, as he was interested in photography at that time. However, the chemistry of the emulsions of glass negatives was much more exciting to him than photography itself, so he very soon 'changed genres' and chemistry became his main occupation. In fact, it was this alchemy that led him to glassmaking when he went to the Zlatno glassworks founded by János György Zahn in 1833, where he began his experiments in chemistry. In 1849 he invented a process called hyaloplasty with which he made glass coins and won a prize at the first World Expo in 1851.
Yet, his most influential invention was a coincidence. One day, there was a celebration in the Zlatno factory and Valentin Pantocsek wanted to light a Greek fire. During the celebration, however, no attention was paid to the cooling down glassware and by the morning a layer of iridescent layer had formed. This accident led to another world-famous invention, the iridescent glass, an invention which was exhibited at many world exhibitions in the 1860s and 70s. His works were mainly reproductions of ancient Roman glass objects, using a process that also copied the iridescent layer covering them. Louis Comfort Tiffany saw these success-objects and began to use Leo Pantocsek's world-famous invention himself. Leo Pantocsek's inventions of the technique of hyaloplasty and iridescent glass was used by glass artists all over the world during the Art Nouveau period, including Hungarian glass artists, among them Márton Horváth and Ágnes Szmetana.