The Novosad a syn glassworks in Harrachov is the second oldest glassworks here. Meanwhile the town´s beer is unique and enjoys a very good reputation. Krkonose are the highest Czech mountains. The striking Krkonose are nature-lover´s dream: tall, majestic and beautiful, they are home to Snezka, the highest peak in the country.
In so much as Ornela Company Limited is the direct successor of the glass producers that established their own companies in the nineteenth century, the producer of the "Desná" range can lay claim to solid historical roots.
In Dolní Polubný, on the site where the Ornela Company Limited complex can be found today, the businessman Ignatz Friedrich built a glass factory for the production of blown glass in 1847. He sold it to Josef Riedel Snr. not long after, and he in turn turned the factory into the centre of his business empire. This made him famous to such an extent that he was rightfully named the glass king of the Jizera Mountains. The glass factories of Josef Riedel not only produced their own wide range of finished products, but also supplied all the significant refinery companies in the nearby surroundings and the whole of the Czech north with semi-finished glass products.
Among the most famous of the users of glass from the Riedel glassworks at that time, and the original creators of the "Desná Classic" range, were companies that wrote themselves significant chapters in the history of local production: Heinrich Hoffmann, Curt Schlevogt, Gebrüder Feix, and Rudolf Rabik.
The Heinrich Hoffmann Company became the most notable of the producers of artistically oriented crystalware (glass that is pre-shaped in metal casts and cut by hand) in the Jizera Mountain area during the 1920s. The company specialised primarily in the export and production of imitation precious stones, pearls, and buttons from the time of its very inception in 1867. The firm began to produce artistically formed crystalware under the influence of the Decorative Arts Exhibition that was held in Paris in 1925. This crystalware was based on the design of the successful French designer and entrepreneur René Lalique. Thanks to cooperation with local artists (František Pazourek, Zdeněk Juna, and Alexander Pfohl), Hoffmann managed to build up an original range of its own, a range that was presented with awards at World Fairs and that acquitted itself well in the face of competition from foreign producers.
The company of Curt Schlevogt, founded in 1928, also became famous for the production of artistic crystalware. This firm began producing luxury pressed glass during the 1930s, a comprehensive collection of which was presented in 1934 at the spring fair in Leipzig under the business name of "Ingrid". The collection was comprised of vanity and smoking sets, vases, table decorations, sculptures, liqueur sets, and devotional articles. The company became famous primarily for products made of opaque glass supplied by the Josef Riedel glassworks - of green jade, blue lapis, and other non-traditional shades. Under the leadership of the owner of the firm, Henry Günther Schlevogt, many European artists participated in the creation of the company collection. These artists included Vally Wieselthier, Franz Hagenauer, Ena Rottenberg, Eleon von Rommel, Mario Petrucci, and many more. The products designed by them are displayed in the "Ingrid" colour product catalogue from 1939, which is also a radiant example of top-quality pre-War printing. At the same time, it demonstrates the sensitivity of Henry G. Schlevogt for work with artistic glass and its presentation.
The companies of Gebrüder Feix, established in 1861, and Rudolf Rabik, founded in 1890, are typical exponents of cut domestic crystalware production. Their production programme consisted of a respectably wide range of goods, primarily vanity, liqueur, smoking, and writing sets, as well as other items. The inter-war period also saw the manufacture of crystalware made of coloured, transparent glass in a range of shades, decorated with etching that was influenced by functionalist and cubist forms.
All major glassmaking companies were nationalised in the period following World War II and later incorporated in the Jablonec Glassworks enterprise, with its headqarters located in Desná. The enterprise was then privatised after 1990, which lead to the emergence of new glassmaking companies. The Ornela Company Limited, the new owner of the production base of former glassworks in the Jablonec region, thus provided a continuation to the tradition of artistic crystalware production in the Jizera Mountain area.
The cooperation of creative artists with glass producers began to take place to a greater extent in the second half of the twentieth century, and is not always commonplace today. In glass production where demanding and expensive metal casts were not used, the glassmakers themselves created individual glass objects, and in the process either used their own imagination or copied and imitated old or foreign designs at the request of the works foreman.
Otherwise, metal casts are used to form the molten glass during the manufacture of crystalware products. The perfect interaction of the creative artist and the glass producer is the basis for success. To be able to design products that are both beautiful and purposeful, and to make sure that the embossed form becomes apparent in the molten glass and looks natural, the designer must know the qualities of the material being used perfectly, as well as the regularities of the technological procedures. The artist prepares a design, which a modeller transforms into a three-dimensional version in the form of a plaster or wooden model. There are other tasks awaiting the technologists and mould makers, since it is necessary to put together and produce an expensive, and usually multi-piece metal mould for each product.
It requires a deep understanding and many years experience to create a mould that will transform the liquid molten glass into the required shape and will function perfectly for a number of years. It is during the creation of the mould that the draftsmen, founders, fitters, engravers, and metal chasers really become irreplaceable, even though this type of work has been influenced by new computer-operated technology over the last few years.
There is a wide range of products that were designed by creative artists for the pre-War product lines of the Heinrich Hoffmann Company, and primarily for the company of Curt Schlevogt. These were creative artists such as Zdeněk Juna, Artur Pleva, Mario Petrucci, Josef Bernhard, Antonín Heythum, Bruno Mauder, František Pazourek, Josef Drahoňovský, Josef Frendlovský, Richard Fischer, Eleon von Rommel, Ida Schwetz-Lehmann, Adolf Beckert, Franz Hagenauer, Max Schwedler, Ena Rottenberg, Karl Kolaczek, Alexander Pfohl, Vally Wieselthier, André Fau, André Till, and Renzo Basini.
The tradition of cooperation with creative artists did not come to a halt even after 1945, a time when the glassmaking industry in the Jizera Mountains underwent significant transformation. The artists Václav Plátek and Václav Hanuš successfully designed new glass products for the Jablonec Glassworks enterprise. Indeed Hanuš was the in-house designer of the glassworks for many years.
The Ornela Company Limited continues to produce glass pieces designed in the past by the artists mentioned above under the "Desná Classic" label, and offers them to interested parties in the "Timeless Collection" range. The company has not lost touch with creative artists in the modern era and attempts to design new products that in no way contradict the close relation we have to our rich tradition, but try to be original artefacts of the twenty-first century in their own right. Cooperation with contemporary designers has yielded new products, which bear the labelling "Desná Retro" or "Desná New Century".
The range of products included under the "Desná Classic" label is interesting both from a creative and a technological perspective. That is to say that utility and decorative glass objects are produced on the basis of demanding traditional procedures, which differ from the original methods of production in only a few minor details.
The foundation of production success is the melting of quality glass that is not susceptible to solarization or optical changes caused by the influence of sunlight. Apart from this, the other necessary conditions are hand work and a team of experienced professionals comprising glassmakers, smelters, cutters, technologists, metal workers, and other professions, whose expertise is highly specialised, mainly connected directly to the glassworks, and requiring of long-term practical preparation.
The basic shape of the product is the result of pressing or blowing. Objects with closed shapes, most often bottles and scent bottles are blown into metal moulds by the glassmaker. Pressing is primarily used during the production of objects with an open shape, such as ashtrays, candleholders, and figurines.
Aside from the hand cutting of products, the frosting of products is an often-used finishing technique. The character of the frost is usually selected individually according to the character of the particular products. It is so delicate in many cases that it effects a silky shine. This is the result of a chemical process that creates an "icy" coating on the surface of the finished product. It is not possible to accomplish this effect with the commonly-used sandblasting or etching. The combination of polished surface and frosted embossing is typical for a number of popular products in the "Desná" range.
"Desná" products are primarily produced from clear glass with special components. This glass, is the result of long-term development that responded to changes in melting technology over the classic pre-war production. Nowadays, the molten glass produced, so-called "Polubný crystal", is the most appropriate molten glass for the artistic crystalware products of the Ornela Company Limited thanks to its hardness and chemical and optical qualities.
Transparent colours also make up a special chapter in the product range "Desná". The transparent colours traditionally used in the Ornela Company Limited have been specially developed so that they create the anticipated optical effect on heavy glass. For this reason they are very delicate and labelled as so-called Jizera colours to ensure their uniqueness.
Uranium yellow is historically the colour most associated with the company's past, since the story has been passed on that it was named as a tribute to Josef Riedel's wife Anna. This is why it is known as Annagelb (Anna's yellow). Its peculiarity is that it glimmers brightly under ultraviolet light. In spite of the fact that uranium is used in the production of this colour, it is used in small concentrations and in a form that is non-detrimental to health.
Less distinctive, but extremely popular among experts, is noble blue, which is sometimes known as alexandrite. This is a colour that is produced using elements of rare earth. These give the glass its special character, in that the glass appears to be differently coloured in daylight and under artificial light.
Another three colours from the range of transparent glass are traditional and peculiar for Desná. The first is water blue, which in its most delicate shades is light and clear like water. The second is noble green, which is characterized by its comforting turquoise tone, and the third is a rosy rozaline.
Most typical of the colouring of Jizera Mountain glass, however, are rich or opaque colours, such as jade (green - inspired by jadeite and malachite), lapis (blue - inspired by lapis lazuli). They resemble natural semi-precious stones so faithfully that the layperson doesn't believe that it is glass at all. The special colour transitions and effects of these colours are accomplished both by the components of the glass, and by using special procedures in the course of production, which gives an irreproducible and unique character to every individual piece.
on Jan 17, 2009
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Last updated on Jan 17, 2009