Czech glass and Czech glassmakers are known for their expertise both in their native country and throughout the world. At the same time, glass has become such an inseparable part of our everyday life that we scarcely think about how it is produced and how much effort it takes, not to mention the fact that it is a beautiful combination of art and craft. So, where can you encounter Czech glass and glass products?
Czech CrystalCrystal is a noble type of glass. It is more brilliant and stronger than the best glass, which is why it is used for production of the best glasses and chandeliers. The quality of the crystal is determined by its production methods and the top-of-the-line materials used. Crystal can be cut into beautiful forms, and lead crystal products are easily among most distinctive and traditional souvenirs you can buy in the Czech Republic. All cutting is done by hand, as the fragility of the glass makes it impossible for machines to replicate this delicate procedure.
Czech crystal was born more than 400 years ago in a region that is today called the ‘Crystal Valley’, and is located in North Bohemia in the Jizera and the Lusatian Mountains. To this day, there are glass factories, some of which date all the way back to the 16th century. There are also glassmaking schools. The Crystal Valley was established by the glass factory Preciosa from Kamenický Šenov, whose origins can be traced back to 1724. It is one of the oldest glass operations in Central Europe, and even today, the majority of work is done by hand.
The Tour de France Trophy and Brit AwardsThere are still more places to encounter crystal, too. If you trained a lot and signed up for the most famous cycling event in the world, the Tour de France, and were lucky enough to stand on the winner’s podium on the Champs d´Elysée in Paris, you would be holding a crystal trophy by designer Peter Olah made in the Lasvit glass factory in Nový Bor. Trophies for the overall winner, the winner under 25, the best sprinter, and the best climber are glass trophies weighing 4 kilogrammes and measuring 60 cm and each made of a single piece of glass. And, of course, they are hand-cut!
Lasvit has manufactured also this year’s BRIT Awards. The Best British musicians were awarded a piece of Czech glass. The statues in the shape of a woman were designed by the famous British-Ghanian architect Sir David Adjaye, but they saw the light of day for the first time in the glassworks in Desná near the Czech borders.
Miami Open Tennis Trophy and Czech Lion Film AwardsNot far from Prague, in the Berounka river valley, in a small town called Nižbor, there is a reopened glass factory Rückl. It produces both glass tableware and trophies for winners of various competitions. Perhaps its most famous trophy is for the winner of the Miami Open tennis tournament. It is a prestigious trophy included in the collections of greats such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, and it weighs 5 kilogrammes and measures 45 cm. And the Czech Lion award? It is a Czech film award, a Czech version of the Oscars. This year, the award too was made by the Rückl.
Golfers Not Left BehindThe firm Moser produces an original trophy by designer Rony Plesl intended for the PGA Tour. It is hand-blown, cut, and polished to a high lustre. The trophy is decorated by over 300 cut round facets that symbolise a golf ball. For the golfers, there is either a large or small version.
Light UndergroundYour chances of standing on the winner’s podium at Tour de France is a little bit smaller than taking public transportation in Dubai. Ten years ago, Czech glassmakers and designers were commissioned to create lighting fixtures for the ultra-modern Dubai Metro. Glass chandeliers by the firm Lasvit, which builds on its almost 1,000-year tradition of Czech glassmaking can be found in two stations: the changing station Khalid Bin Al Waleed and the Al Rigga station at the heart of the main tourist and entertainment centres of Dubai.
Where To Go To See GlassNový Bor: In North Bohemia, on the square in Nový Bor, there is a glass museum that maps glass production from the 17th century until today. The museum will introduce you to the glass production procedure as well as techniques of glass processing. In Nový Bor, there is also a glass factory Ajeto where they will gladly show off their glass production processes.
Jablonec nad Nisou: In a beautiful Art Nouveau building in the North Bohemian town of Jablonec nad Nisou, the local museum presents its permanent exhibitions, which bring you both to the ancient history and the present of glassmaking, as Jablonec is known for its costume jewellery incorporating glass decorations that replace real diamonds.
Karlovy Vary: In Western Bohemia, there is the Moser glass factory with a near-by visitor’s centre and a museum. There, you can learn about the history of the family glass factory that once served as the official supplier to royal courts and that even today successfully follows in the rich tradition of artful glassmaking.