left right
European Virtual Training Centre
for glass arts and techniques

Czech republic Wooden mould blowing


Written and translated by Tereza Jeřábková

In technological terms hand glass blowing has not changed much since its beginnings.
The oldest blown glass was produced without moulds. Such a technological process has had many limitations, because most of more difficult shapes have not been possible to make without a mould.

First blowing moulds were invented as early as the 5th century B.C. At the beginnings open bowl shaped moulds were probably used. There was the blowing into shutting moulds on the next stage of development. These could already give a precise shape to a glass piece. There were assuredly not only wooden but also metal moulds already used in ancient Rome.

There is evidence about the oldest glass-houses in Czech countries from 2nd half of 13th century. These glass-houses were established in forest area outside of towns, mostly because wood, which has been base row material to produce potassium and as well the fuel for glass furnaces. These were migratory glass-houses. When glass-house burnt all the wood in the surrounding it moved to another place where sufficiency of wood was. This was a routine in all central Europe. So called “forest glass” was produced in these glass-houses. It got its name from this typical location as well as from the greenish colour of glass with high iron content.
The oldest glass-house still operating is in Ch?ibská and was established probably in 1414.

During the 15th and 16th century increased the glass production in Czech countries heavily and in 16th century there were 120 glass-houses registered in Bohemia and Moravia and most of them was already settled on permanent place.

17th century was a swing period in glass-work in Czech countries and glass-houses were established even on places, where glass-work has no tradition. However, in the first half of 18th century the two main specialized glass-work areas were formed.

The biggest amount of furnaces was located In the South of Bohemia, mainly in Novohradské Hory foothills and in Bohemian Forest foothills. And there was a big number of refineries in area of North Bohemia between Nový Bor with ?eská Kamenice and Turnov with Liberec and Jablonec nad Nisou.

The end of 18th century and the beginning of 19th century is era of massive decrease in glass-work, mainly because of Napoleonic wars and market blockade. But again in thirties of 19th century a number of work-shops began to grow slowly.

Unfortunately the First World War meant definitive disappearance of smaller glass-houses by reason of switch-over to new fuel and also because of lower demand after Atr Nuovo glass. During the process of industrialization the production became more specific and centralized.

After 1945 when nationalization came glass factories dealt with a problem of lack of skilled craftsmen by reason of displacement of German glass masters. Glass work was engrossed and smaller glass-houses either were destroyed or became parts of bigger state monopolies.

Nowadays a lot of smaller glass-houses work again, but the overall recessive tendency not only in Czech glasswork , does not make a good opportunity for development of handicraft, which is on the high level but in comparison with machine glasswork it is too expensive.