Jug in Bohemia, Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) by L. Moser & Sohne
|Launch year||13th century|
Bohemian glass, or Bohemia crystal, is a decorative glass produced in regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now in the current state of the Czech Republic, since the 13th century. Oldest archaeology excavations of glass-making sites date to around 1250 and are located in the Lusatian Mountains of Northern Bohemia. Most notable sites of glass-making throughout the ages are Skalice (German: Langenau), Kamenický Šenov (German: Steinschönau) and Nový Bor (German: Haida). Both Nový Bor and Kamenický Šenov have their own Glass Museums with many items dating since around 1600. It was especially outstanding in its manufacture of glass in high Baroque style from 1685 to 1750. In the 17th century, Caspar Lehmann, gem cutter to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, adapted to glass the technique of gem engraving with copper and bronze wheels.
Bohemia was a part of the Austro/Hungarian Empire now part of the Czech Republic, and was famous for its beautiful and colourful glass. The history of Bohemian glass started with the abundant natural resources found in the countryside. Bohemian glass-workers discovered potash combined with chalk created a clear colourless glass that was more stable than glass from Italy. It was at that time when the term Bohemian crystal emerged for the first time in history to distinguish its qualities from the glass coming from other places. As opposed to usual perception this was non-lead. This Czech glass could be cut with a wheel. In addition, resources such as wood for firing the kilns and for burning down to ashes were used to create potash. There were also copious amounts of limestone and silica.
Bohemia turned out expert craftsmen who artfully worked with crystal. Bohemian crystal became famous for its excellent cut and engraving. They became skilled teachers of glass-making in neighbouring and distant countries. By the middle of the 19th century, a technical glass-making school system was created that encouraged traditional and innovative techniques as well as technical preparation.
In the second half of the 19th century, Bohemia looked to the export trade and mass-produced coloured glass for shipment all over the world. Pairs of vases were produced either in a single colour of opaque glass or in two-colour cased glass. These were decorated in thickly enamelled flower subjects that were painted with great speed. Others were decorated with coloured lithographic prints copying famous paintings. These glass objects were made in huge quantities in large factories and were available by mail order throughout Europe and America. They were not fine art but provided inexpensive decorative objects to brighten up ordinary homes reverse glass painting was also a specialty of the Czechs. The image is carefully painted by hand on the back of a pane of glass, using a variety of techniques and materials, after which the painting is mounted in a bevelled wooden frame.
Glass artisanship remained at a high level even under the Communists because it was considered ideologically innocuous. However, although craftsmen retained their talent, not all the glass-makers still possess a sense of how to make designs new and exciting, and these are still very successful exporting to markets abroad, while others are passing out of general knowledge In the modern 21st century
Among the items for which the Czech nation is still well known is the production of "druk" beads. Druks are small (3mm-18mm) round glass beads with small threading holes produced in a wide variety of colors and finishes and used mainly as spacers among beaded jewellery makers.
- Geary, Theresa Flores (2008). The Illustrated Bead Bible: Terms, Tips & Techniques. New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4027-2353-7. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
Media related to Bohemian glass at Wikimedia Commons