Ruckl Glass Factory – Nizbor

The day before I left Prague I went to heaven or Ruckl glass factory (same thing for a glass artist). Now I’ve seen blown glass all over the world including Murano, Corning in New York, the Black Forest in Germany, and even in Finland in my 20’s. I even blew glass in Oregon and in Rhode Island. But the Ruckl glass factory in the small village of Nizbor was outstanding!!! Did I say outstanding, I meant to say FREAKING OUTSTANDING !!!

First a bit of my journey to Nizbor. The Prague train station was a bit overwhelming and not a lot of friendly people. I found the ticket office without too much trouble (it’s downstairs) under the train boards. But her English and my Czech were neither very good, but Luckily for me I had my print out from the visitor information office (I got on my first day) and just pointed to where I wanted to go. She gave me my ticket (which I couldn’t really understand). Then I had to watch the board to find out what platform my train left from (15 – 20 mins before departure).


I had plenty of time so I went upstairs to the Old part of the train station, Very cool.

Then I had coffee (their coffee is so smooth). When my platform popped up (again thank goodness for my print out – because it printed the time and train #) I had no problem finding my train – it was already there I got on and waited to take off. It took off a bit late and looking at my print out I just knew I wasn’t going to make my connection. Meanwhile I just watch the beautiful scenery go by. We followed a river most of the way. I also had a bit of fun watch a Czech family drinking at 830 in the morning. They were quite loud and pretty funny!

I changed trains in Beroun and when I got off I was definitely late but there was someone there and I pointed to my paper and he told me the platform and I headed that way. But I got close and I couldn’t remember if it was 1a or 1e, (they pronounce them similar). Well he came up beside me and said come this way. He literally walked me to the waiting train and the conductor let me on and the train departed! I love riding the trains in Europe, it takes me back to my 20’s the first time I was in Germany and I took the train everywhere including a trip to Scandinavia! Isn’t it funny how as we age we can’t remember what we did yesterday, but I can remember that trip…. anyway there I go digressing again.

When I arrived in Nizbor I walked around a bit, my tour was at 1115 and I was 2 hrs early. So I walked across the bridge and had a cup of coffee.

Then walked to the factory. I went into the store and told them I had a tour at 1115 and asked if there was an earlier one. There was in 10 minutes.

Now for the horrible part. While in Prague I paid for everything with my visa – tours, food, & souvenirs. It never dawned on me there would be no ATMs in Nizbor, and I had no cash (other than some change). But Stan (my tour guide) was like how will you get back to Prague on the train, I’m like crap there’s no ticket machine and he’s like NOPE. But then he said, don’t worry we’ll work it out, not just for my tour ticket, but my train ticket and lunch! Isn’t that amazing!! *I’m sure they were making fun of me but I kept apologizing and he just said I’m not the first and it’s not a big deal.

In Prague I found the store clerks, bus driver, train attendants, pretty much everyone kind of rude (except for the visitor information attendant, she was awesome). But here in Nizbor, they were all wonderful! After the tour he fixed it all and I ended up with 300 ck to pay for my lunch and train ticket. I also bought 2 small pink glass pieces. They aren’t carved but I love pink and pink glass is difficult to come by and is very expensive so I’m very happy they had something I could afford.

Now back to the factory. Stan our guide was so knowledgeable and he should be, his grandfather spent his entire life working at Ruckl as a glass carver. Ruckl glass is blown, shaped, annealed, the top cut off, then carved, then shined. I got to see every step other than the shining (he said they do it with acid). Stan starts out explaining how the glass is made and that they make the glass right there. Ruckl’s main glass is clear but they also are also making pink (very unique and black). Remember this is lead crystal glass – different from the art glass (COE 90 & 96) in America or the glass in Murano (COE 104). Here is a piece of the pink glass (btw it was just sitting out in the air, I so wanted to take it home!)

He takes us (there are 4 Americans and 2 Czechs), to the blowing room, it’s like a little dance, one gets the glass, then blows it, then shapes it with a wooden shaping tool (you could smell the wood burning even with the water), then puts it in the wooden cast (Stan said they can do about 400 pieces and have to make a New wooden cast (again made right there on site!), then another guy takes it and takes it off the pipe and puts it into the annealing oven. And the first guy goes and starts another piece. We also got to watch the pink glass. (BTW they don’t mix their glass), when I casted glass at bullseye they would get a dip from one color and another from another color. I’m not sure why maybe it’s tradition. They also make black glass but we didn’t see any being blown (albeit we saw a lot in the carving room). Back to the pink glass for a minute, on the clear they just get a big glob and blow it. But the pink they had to make a bubble let it cool then get more glass onto the little starter bubble. They didn’t say why but it was different.

Next came the part where they cut off the top, this was cool and I’ve never seen it before the guy takes a vase puts it on the cutter to score the glass (kind of like I do when I cut glass – technically I’m scoring it and I use my breaking pliers to break it in half) then he puts it on another turn table and it heats up slowly to make the score run (again this is kind of like cutting a bottle in two – I score it then run hot water (technically I could use fire but hot water is easier for me – then I dip it in ice water and the bottle splits in 2) he just took the top off and put it in the bin.

They crush up all the glass and reuse it – isn’t glass amazing. Speaking of reusing, when I was in Germany we went to a German store and outside they had all of these empty bottles that they were going to sterilize and refill. (Why oh why have we gotten away from doing this!). Instead we use plastic that lasts forever.

Then we went to the carving room! Love this room, so much glass everywhere! And all of these fantastic lathes and artists! That’s right artists because they hand carve each and every piece (unless it’s not carved of course). They mark the glass based on the map and then they look through the glass and cut the glass according to the map. Each lathe is set to a certain depth and each artist carves their section. I freaking loved this room – in case you didn’t know a simple lathe costs about $1500 and these were extraordinary! I so love the pink and black glass pieces.

So now you know why these pieces are worth so much probably 30 people working on 1 piece and that’s just the glass workers. They’ve been making glass at Rukls since 1903. Glass is such an amazing material that has been around for over 2000 years, I hope it never goes away and I hope people understand how truly spectacular it is. Needless to say I had to take a picture.

You know I probably saw 5 glass blowers in Murano and I loved every one but seeing how they took the glass from a pretty simple vase to carving each and every cut…. it was fabulous for me!

I couldn’t afford the carved pieces, but I did buy 2 simple (seconds) pink bowls. What I mean by seconds, is they aren’t perfect – that’s right they do quality control on each piece too.

Wow did I enjoy my trip to the Rukl Glass factory. Here is a picture of me and then picture of Stan and me.

As I mentioned I had enough money to buy a little lunch, cheese, cranberry, and bread – soooo good. And what a neat building. Needless to say I loved the glass everywhere, I don’t smoke but what a pretty ashtray.
So a bit of my adventure back to Prague. The pictures below are of where I ate and it’s right by the train; in fact it’s an old train car.

I didn’t enjoy the ride back as much I like the open trains vs the little rooms (think Harry Potter), my room had 3 guys – none spoke English (which is understandable) but one kept looking at me and freaking me out. 🙂 When I got back to Prague my phone was almost dead and I had no internet so I couldn’t get an Uber (yep love my Uber), but there was a taxi (Uber was 68 and the taxi was 152), yep you got that’s right I gave him the rest of my money (not much of a tip but at least I had enough for the trip). Thanks again Stan!! And Thank god because it was a 2 mile walk to my room, not what I wanted to do with no google maps.

If you’d like to see what else I did in Prague check out the “DYK” below.

If you would like to see more of my fused glass work please refer to my website Elegant Fused Glass by Karen. If you get a chance, check out all my sites, Fused Glass by Karen, My Etsy store, my Art fire Store, my Pinterest, and Elegant Fused Glass by Karen youtube. If you would like to stay abreast of what I’m up-to and learn a little more about jewelry, check out our newsletter. It is published the last day of each month.

Keeping my Kiln warm,

Karen

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