Petr Novotný began working with glass as an apprentice at the age of 15. Today he runs one of the Czech Republic’s most celebrated glass studios from the traditional craft hot spot of Nový Bor. His career has spanned communism and capitalism.After 10 years as a master glassblower for Crystalex – Czechoslovakia’s most important export brand during the Iron Curtain years – Novotný collaborated with some of the country’s design icons such as René Roubícek and Stanislav Libenský, who were given unprecedented freedom to exhibit internationally by the…
01Ajeto factory in Lindava
02Shaping the glass before blowing
03A worker in the polishing workshop checks that a piece is level
04The glass is cooled
05Wooden moulds are made to the exact measurements of the intended shape of the glass pieces
06Furnaces in the ‘hot shop’
07Glassblowing through a blowpipe
09A finished piece
Melting the glass
The glass is melted during the night in a specialised furnace that reaches temperatures of up to 1,315C.
To sustain the elevated temperatures of glassmaking the wooden moulds must have a high degree of moisture.
Blowing the glass
The glassworkers work with the glass in a constant process of heating and re-heating. This requires perfect timing.
Annealing the glass
Cooling the glass is the final step before quality control and delivery. It must be done with care to avoid imperfections.
The history of Czech glass
Manufacturing of glass in Bohemia took off in the 16th century when the nobility freed glassmakers from feudal obligations and allowed them to use the abundant minerals, sand and timber in the area. This Bohemian style of glassmaking incorporated influences from Bavaria, Saxony, Tyrol and Austria and can be seen in Prague’s stunning Baroque architecture and ornamentation. The transition to Communism after the Second World War led to extensive changes. As the area became more ethnically homogenous, the regime encouraged artists and glassblowers to use glass for sculpture and installation.
Petr Novotný’s CV
1952 Born 9 February
1967-1969 Glassmaking apprenticeship at the Apprentice School Nový Bor 1969-1972 Secondary Glass Art and Craft School, Nový Bor
1972-1980 Employed in the Crystalex glassworks Nový Bor
1983 Acquired the title “Art Craft Master”
1980-1990 Pedagogue at the Glass Apprentice School Nový Bor
1981, 84, 87, 90 Participation in the International Glass Symposia Nový Bor
1991 Founds Ajeto
2003 Founding of his own art glass school in Nový Bor
A glass act
The Glass Factory
The Swedish district of Småland had more than 100 glassworks but today only the larger brands remain. The Glass Factory opened less than a year ago in the heartland of the region and gives independent designers the chance to work with glassblower Christopher Ramsey. The workshop is owned by the Stockholm Design Group and supported by the local municipality, Emmaboda.
The Royal Factory of Crystal
Having lain dormant for decades, this traditional supplier of glass to the Spanish aristocracy re-opened 20 years ago. The artisans here have made both the contemporary light sculptures at the Reina Sofía museum and modern Spanish glassware in collaboration with designer Tomas Kral.
Ezra Glass Studio
In the Japanese countryside lies a small workshop in the forest run by Hiroshi Yamano, an accomplished artist and a well-known glass teacher in Osaka. The glassworks opens its doors to emerging artists wanting to engage with the local community and show their working methods.