Glass making has been a major craft in the Bohemian region (today Czech Republic) for over 800 years; in fact, research and excavations have revealed the earliest forms of glass making in the region to go as far back as year 1250. Over the centuries the region has grown to be known for its colorful and decorative glass and crystal. Till this day many artisans and factories have persevered the unique craftsmanship with handmade and hand cut crystal and glass pieces that range from decorative homeware to tableware and stemware.
What steps are involved in the glass production process?
Here’s a quick look inside a glass factory just outside of Prague. Here you’ll discover the various steps of the glass production process:
Step 1: Glass Production- First, we’ll start off by taking a look at a room that holds a large furnace fire where factory artisans shape, mold and heat the glass to create beautiful vases, bowls and stemware. Each piece is handmade and hand blown.
Step 2: Finishing of the Glass Production- Second, we’ll take a look at how each glass piece is finished by removing extra pieces and materials to yield a final pre-cut piece.
Step 3: Glass Cutting- Finally, we’ll bring you behind the scenes to show you how each beautiful crystal and glass piece is given a final touch with hand cut patterns.
Step 1: Glass Production
The centerpiece of the glass making process is the fire burning furnace which you’ll notice in the background. The furnace houses the liquid glass which is used to form each crystal glass piece. A typical recipe for glass may include ingredients such as potassium, silicon, borax, zinc, sodium and crushed crystal.
The glass making process is a team oriented process. You’ll notice stations of workers focusing on different tasks. Some artisans are glass blowing while others are molding and shaping pieces into their respective forms depending on if it is a vase, bowl, glass or other item.
Here an artisan is using a blowpipe to expand a bubble through the glass material. The blow pipe is a hollow steel rod that allows the artisan to blow air through it straight into the glass material.
Glass pieces are molded using a variety of techniques including cast iron molds as seen above.
In this picture you’ll notice the artisan is using a cast iron mold to shape a crystal glass vase. The glass material is connected to the end of a blow pipe with which the artisan is blowing in air.
Step 2: Finishing of Glass Production
The next step of the glass production process is a finishing process where the pieces of glass are lined up and extra sections of glass are cut off and disposed of to create a final pre-cut piece.
In this picture you’ll notice a line of vases which are placed on rotating platforms. Each platform also includes a burning torch which helps to reheat the rim of the vase to easily remove the extra top piece and expose the vase opening.
Step 3: Glass Cutting
In the final production step, artisans add artistic touches to each piece using glass cutting techniques. Each glass piece is unique and cut by hand. Here is an example of a typical cutting station.
Each piece is marked with a marker to indicate various patterns and cuts necessary to yield the final product.
During the process, each artisan handles a separate cut. This means that one piece may circulate through multiple stations to yield one hand cut design.
The Czech glassmaking and glass cutting production is an intricate and time heavy process, but it yields some of the most beautiful crystal glass around the world. Each step and process is done by artisans with at least 10 years of experience. In many cases the art is passed on from generations and in other cases artisans learn from hands on experience and years of training and schooling. Every piece made in the process has its own unique mark as it is made and cut by hand.