Johann Kunckel's Ars Vitraria Experimentalis (1679) is arguably the most important text on seventeenth-century glassmaking. As an augmented German translation of Italian (1612) and English (1662) editions, Kunckel presented a complex and layered text that contained a plethora of recipes, elaborate commentaries and annotations, and various appendices dealing with glass-related technologies and arts. We reworked four recipes for rosichiero glass (a transparent red glass) in Kunckel's book to discover what strategies Kunckel employed to help readers engage with the recipes and to make the recipes work in the specificity of their own workshop. We learned that Kunckel regularly neglected to test the Italian recipes, and that not all of his corrections are improvements, thereby specifying our understanding of the “codification of error” as a strategy to write down colour-making knowledge. Instead, Kunckel made the choice to educate his readers on the very mechanisms of glass colouring to allow them to intervene to influence the colour of the glass and to gain further control over the making process. He argued that the colour of glass is sensitive to the manner in which ingredients are sourced and processed, and emphasised the importance of furnace management in optimising the colour of glass.