Famous Czech glassworks produces glass bell for Klok & Peel Museum in Asten

The glass bell for the Museum Klok & Peel in Asten

The first written mention of the Harrachov glassworks dates back to 1712, but it was most likely established years before that. Today the oldest surviving glassworks in Czechia makes luxury glass for rich clients the world over and occasionally produces special pieces on commission.     

Glassworks in Harrachov | Photo: Anastáz Papáček,  Zlatá Praha,  year 1906-7,  issue 10/Wikimedia Commons,  public domain

The Harrachov glassworks, dating back to the early 18th century, is the oldest surviving glassworks not only in Czechia, but most likely in the world. During its more than three hundred year history, the glassworks produced collections that adorned royal tables around Europe. (One of the two surviving vases made for Emperor Francis Joseph I in 1873 is on display in the Harrachov Museum of Glass.)

Harrachov master glassmakers triumphed at international exhibitions, putting Czech glassmaking on the world map in the mid-19th century. The Harrachov glassworks won a gold medal at the Great Exhibition of Industrial Works of All Nations, in London 1851. In the following years, the glassworks exhibited in Paris (1855), Moscow (1872), Philadelphia (1876), Sydney (1879) and many other metropolises around the world.

Harrachov Glassworks | Photo: Draceane,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

Today the glassworks employs approximately 100 people, including thirty glassmakers, who excel in a variety of engraving techniques and melt enamel in more than thirty different colors. Production is focused primarily on luxury drinking glasses of which the glassworks makes around 30,000 a month. The vast majority of them are exported to clients in the US and Scandinavia.

Occasionally the famous glassworks gets a special commission such as to make a glass bell for the Museum Klok & Peel, Asten, the Netherlands, which houses the world's largest collection of bells and carillons. The best master glassmakers and bell makers put their skills to the task and finished the work of art only just this week. The head of the glassworks František Novosad says the secret is in the composition of the glass used.

František Novosad | Photo: Eliška Pilařová,  Czech Radio

“We made the bell from tempered crystal glass so that it will withstand the pressure. This glass resonates well, has a fine spark to it and is more resistant to acid and light.”

The mastermind behind the project is the famous Czech bell maker Petr Manoušek who has already made three bells for the Harrachov church. He christened the new bell before its journey to the Netherlands.

"This is not a tone that can be compared to that made by a bronze bell. But it does sound beautiful, since glass has a special resonance. The museum in Asten does not have a glass bell apparently. They have bells from all over the world made of different materials but a glass bell of this size will be something new. So they are greatly looking forward to it.”

The glass bell was blown out of 8 kilograms of glass. It is 60 centimeters in height and about 50 centimeters in diameter. The handle for hanging and the heart of the bell are made from high quality oak wood.

Harrachov Glassworks | Photo: Draceane,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

The bell will be sent to the museum in Asten on Friday and when it goes on display, it will be one more precious artefact writing the history of the famous Harrachov glassworks nestling at the foot of the Giant Mountains.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Eliška Pilařová
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