The Story of Bohemian Glass
Bohemian glass, often known as Bohemian crystal, is a glass produced in the regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now parts of the Czech Republic.
Bohemia, formerly part of Czechoslovakia and in the past part of Austro-Hungarian Empire, became well-known for its glass production during the Renaissance. Back then, the concept of Bohemian glass started with the discovery of rich natural resources in the countryside, necessary for glass making.
Bohemian glass-workers discovered potash combined with chalk created clear and colorless glass that was more stable than the other glass, originally from Italy. In the 16th century, the glass from Bohemia was remarkably different from the rest of the glass elsewhere.
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. During the era, the Czech lands became the dominant producer of decorative glassware and the local manufacture of glass earned international reputation in high Baroque style from 1685 to 1750.
It has been recognized for its top-class quality, both traditional and innovative design, and craftsmanship. Hand-cut, blown, engraved and painted decorative glassware varies from simple wine glasses to enormous chandeliers, figurines, and other shapes. The items are especially popular as tourist souvenirs.
Considering its long tradition, the Czech Republic is home to numerous glass studios and schools attended by many local and foreign students. The students can start focusing on glass-making process while in high school, as there is a "High School of Applied Arts for Glass-Making in Zelezny Brod, Czech Republic".
Around 1250, the oldest archeological glass-making sites were discovered in the Lusatian Mountains of Northern Bohemia. Throughout the years, more sites of glass-making mines were discovered, including Skalice, Jablonec nad Nisou, Železný Brod, Poděbrady, Karlovy Vary, Kamenický Šenov and Nový Bor. Several of these towns have their own glass museums with many items dating since around 1600.
Jablonec nad Nisou, located in the Northern part of Bohemia, is famous for the local tradition of manufacturing glass costume jewelry. Its long history is documented by large collections in the Museum of Glass and Jewelry, Jablonec nad Nisou.
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