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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2013-08-22, 9:42am
Floorkasp Floorkasp is offline
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Default How they make beads in Germany and the Czech Republic

I am finishing off a 'glass and bead trip' I did through Germany and the Czech Republic. Thought it would be interesting to share some of it with you guys. Not sure what the best place for it is on here, but as I will also look at the different techniques, this seems right. Please let me know if it is out of place.
There are going to be a lot of pictures in these posts....

I travelled to Idar Oberstein first, where they used to make stone beads. Not interesting for the lampworkers, so I'll skip that.

Next was Lauscha, a tiny town, with some big glass history. They used to be known for their glass marbles and are now mostly known for glasses and cups, and christmas decorations.

The chimney of the Lauscha Farbglaushuette, where they make glass rods, glassware and hollow glass. This is the source for the lampworking glass too.


A view inside the lampwork glass warehouse. Really did not want to leave....



This is where they draw the rods and canes: a two man job where they pull a gather of glass and lay it on the floor to cool.



Lauscha is a cold place in the winter, and lampworking gets tough. This is how their lampworkers set up: they have a pipe with small holes in it running along the table. Propane runs through it, and the small flames preheat the glass rods.



Finally, some of the glass pieces of marbles and canes that I found in a place near the woods where they were digging. As the main focus of my trip was to learn more about the history, this was a great find for me.



Next stop: Neugablonz!
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  #2  
Old 2013-08-22, 9:53am
Floorkasp Floorkasp is offline
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Default Neugablonz

Neugablonz (aka New Jablonec) is a town that was entirely built after the end of WWII to house the German glassmakers that were expelled from the Czech town of Jablonec. It is a complicated history, and an impressive one. Most beadmakers in Jablonec were from German descent, and after the Germans lost WWII, they were forced to leave their fancy homes, their workshops and their factories. With their knowledge, they set up in Germany again. Currently, the industry in Neugablonz is struggling.

This is a picture I took two years ago: glass pressing rods (about an inch wide) that were ready to be made into molded glass beads. This workshop has since finished.





The impressive array of glass beads and cabs made by the Blaschke family, who originally came from Jablonec, and started up again in Neugablonz.



Another impressive chimney, this time of the Kugler glass factory in Neugablonz. It has changed names a few times, and is now known as Kugler colors, previously Friedrich farbglashuette. This where the glass is made for 'beadmaking 104' for lampworkers.




Next stop: Jablonec!
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  #3  
Old 2013-08-22, 10:04am
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Cool. thanks.
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  #4  
Old 2013-08-22, 10:09am
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Awesome Floorkasp! I don't know how you managed to leave Lauscha; I'd prob still be standing there drooling.

Alli
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  #5  
Old 2013-08-22, 10:11am
Floorkasp Floorkasp is offline
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Default Jablonec Nad Nisou

Jablonec Nad Nisou is the Czech town where glass beads, buttons and cabs have been made for centuries. I am currently writing a book about 'Beads from Jablonec'.
Here are some pictures:

The old, but still working, glass factory that was founded by Josef Riedel in the 1800's. This is where the Czech glass lampworking rods come from. The huge factory complex is now owned by Preciosa, also the makers of many types of crystal beads and seed beads. It sits in Desna, not far from Jablonec.



An example of an old workshop where they used to make glass molded beads and buttons. They are scattered around the area and can be recognized by their chimneys. This one is no longer in use.




This is how pressed glass beads are made. Large rods of glass are heated in a kiln and when soft, pressed into a mold that immediately pushes a hole into them. This used to be done one by one, but now it is a bit (but not that much) quicker. These beads are also the start of many facetted beads.





On to lampworking....
One of the things that I noticed, is that the people who make lampwork beads or figurines have their torch positioned differently than most other lampworkers. Their torch points down or straight, and usually their forearms are flat on the table.



They use the heat of the torch to preheat the rods (this too is a place that gets very cold in the winter) on a cast iron metal rod holder. It seems like it is very well designed, and I managed to find one of these old rod holders to try at home.



For those concerned about safety: this place will be shocking...... I have seen many people (all professionals) working without any eye protection, I have seen a full-on glassblower on the street at a festival with massive oxygen and gas tanks ready for kids to pull over, and many other places that I would not qualify as a safe workplace. I have not seen any didymium glasses, I think. Quite a few did have a clear sheet of glass to protect their eyes and face. This one surprised me the most: at a local festival, people were showing their craft. These kids were crawling all over the table of this lampworker. An nobody minded.....



Walking along the road ina nearby town, I saw a driveway with scattered beads, and a small house with a smoking chimney. A sure cue for me to go and see. Turns out, it was a workshop for firepolishing beads, a one man operation. I thought, that real firepolishing was a thing of the past, and that it was now done in temperature controlled kilns.
This man was continually adding wood and placing racks of glass beads in the fire. He would rotate the racks, so they would start at the top, and move down the shelves. It was a very hot job, and he actually had a piece of cardboard on his nose to protect it from the heat. He spoke no German or English, but proudly showed me the German "Perlen Poesie' magazine in which he was featured.



Finally, two sample cards of local beads, from the 1920's and 1930's.





I hope you enjoyed coming along on my bead trip!
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  #6  
Old 2013-08-22, 10:11am
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Fascinating stuff, thanks for sharing!
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  #7  
Old 2013-08-22, 10:23am
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So cool. This is the way to spend a vacation for sure. Thanks for posting.
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Old 2013-08-22, 1:26pm
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Love this! Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 2013-08-22, 2:01pm
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I loved it. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 2013-08-22, 2:16pm
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That's so interesting. Thanks for all the photos!
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  #11  
Old 2013-08-22, 2:42pm
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WOW! Thank you so much for sharing,
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Old 2013-08-22, 2:46pm
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Thank you so much. It was all very interesting. I am going to Germany and Prague soon but sadly I will not have time to explore like you did. The one thing I did ask my DH was to go bead shopping in Prague. Any suggestions would be welcome.
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Old 2013-08-22, 3:13pm
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Very interesting, thanks.
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Old 2013-08-22, 3:44pm
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Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading this!
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Old 2013-08-22, 4:39pm
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This is wonderful. What a fantastic trip and I love the information you shared. Thank you.
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Old 2013-08-22, 5:01pm
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What a wonderful journey, thank you so much for sharing your trip!
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Old 2013-08-22, 5:39pm
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I love this! Thank you so much for taking the time to share here!
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Old 2013-08-22, 6:53pm
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Thank you so much for sharing your journey.
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Old 2013-08-22, 7:19pm
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I'd also like to thank your for sharing. What wonderful places you've visited.
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Old 2013-08-23, 1:37am
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Thanks for all your kind words. It has been a great tour indeed. Most of it was done on my own, and all by public transport. I have visited Jablonec many times, and highly recommend it for any bead enthousiast. If you want to know more: just ask.
Recommendations for Prague. There are quite a few places in Prague where you can buy lampwork products, mostly figurines. I have been told though, that some are now made in China, and sold here. There is a large glass seller near the main square (hard to miss) where you may catch a lampwork demonstration. Buying old beads, or buying materials for making your own in Prague is going to be hard. Of you are there on a saturday, I do highly recommend Kolbenovca fleamarket. It is quite a weird place, but there are interesting glass dealers with lots of old stuff and also some with newer beads. There are a few bead shops in Prague, but most are not too interesting. There is a new one that I did not visit yet, and it is like an annex to their big shop in Jablonec is http://www.robinsonkoralky.cz/cs/ This one, I would certainly go to.
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Old 2013-08-23, 1:46am
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That was so informative and interesting, thank you so much for sharing. You really made those towns come alive.
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Old 2013-08-23, 1:50am
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A great and interesting read and I love the pics!
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Old 2013-08-23, 5:05am
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Oh wow. I am sooo jealous!! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2013-08-23, 5:40am
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I found the answer from the webpage to make it English. In the "O" of the name!

Love this tour. Thank you!
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Old 2013-08-23, 5:52am
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Wonderful picture show! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 2013-08-23, 6:51am
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Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. The fire-polishing part is especially cool!
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Old 2013-08-23, 7:13am
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really enjoying your post. please post more if you have it
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Old 2013-08-23, 7:17am
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Wow. Thanks for sharing this.

I want to go to there!
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Old 2013-08-23, 7:44am
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I loved it!!! thank you so much for sharing this!!!
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Old 2013-08-23, 9:52am
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Thank you so much for posting this - what a wonderful trip you had! Fascinating info!!
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