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Glass from Gablonz


Hello friends, I hope your week is off to a good start! As promised in yesterday’s post, a lot of lovely new pieces are going to make their way to the Etsy shop but I wanted to tell you more about two bracelets in particular.

When I set out to make jewelry, I started with the basic round beads. They were easy to use  and using them successfully encouraged me to continue with more ambitious projects.   Now, I love the unusually shaped beads because it forces me to think of creative ways to use them. But I’d never actually worked with rectangular shaped ones till I found the beads pictured here in a small brocante. I arrived close to the end of the afternoon and vendors were starting to pack up. Almost at the end of one row of stalls, was a man with boxes and boxes of buttons and tassels.  I didn’t really expect to find any beads because he explained that most of his stock came from an  old mercerie (haberdashery shop).  Sewing is not my strong suit, so I passed up on the  buttons but  before leaving I decided to open one   last box and to my great surprise I found these square shaped beads.

I have to tell you that they are just so beautifully faceted.    I don’t think these pictures do it justice but these beads are faceted almost like  gemstones. And while I try not to have particular favorites with my pieces, the way the all black  bracelet catches the light is just spectacular.   DSCN3493

Of course, I was immediately obsessed with finding out more about them. And it wasn’t  easy to determine their origins.   Black square bracelet 1

After reading a number of books and comparing other similarly faceted beads, I think that they are most likely from Gablonz, a village in Northern Bohemia, in what is now Czech Republic and they date back to the late 20s early 30s. Gablonz was a renowned center for glass making. There have been glass workers there since at least the 18th century.   They were matched only by the Venetians in skill and output and glass production was at its height in the 19th century.  Unfortunately, times have since greatly changed and the industry is sadly diminished.  There just isn’t the same demand for glass beads, production costs have soared and there are cheaper (though lesser quality) alternatives.

Black square bracelet2

I’m afraid that one day the glass makers of Gablonz will close their doors permanently. I count myself lucky to have at least found some pieces with which to make new jewelry. Hopefully these lovely bracelets will find lovely new owners. At least then, this beautiful glass work won’t be totally lost for good.

2 thoughts on “Glass from Gablonz

  1. you are so right about how beautifully faceted those are!!! lucky you for finding the czech glass the way you did, although to me, it’s no longer really luck but more that passion and persistence you have to seek out the most beautiful beads. You know how journalists develop a nose for news, I think similarly, you have developed an incredible eye and sense for finding the most amazing, one-of-a-kind pieces to work with. Add to that the creativity and skill you have t tutting them together, et voila! A work of art in itself. Bravo and more power!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words!!

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