Sweden // The southeast //

Glass-making and -buying in the Glass Kingdom

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The glass-making process can be mesmerizing to watch, with a glass plug being fished out of a shimmering, molten lake (at 1200°C) and then turned and blown into a graphite or steel mould. With wine glasses, a foot is added during the few seconds when the temperature is just right – if the glass is too hot, the would-be stem will slide off or sink right through; if too cold, it won’t stick. The piece is then annealed – heated and then slowly cooled – for several hours. It all looks deceptively simple and mistakes are rare, but it nevertheless takes years to become a servitör (glass-maker’s assistant), working up through the ranks of stem-maker and bowl-gatherer.

Glassware is marketed with a vengeance in Småland – take a look at the often absurd hyperbole in the widely available Kingdom of Crystal magazine. If you want to buy glassware, don’t feel compelled to snap up the first things you see: the same designs appear at most of the glassworks, testimony to the fact that the biggest factories by far, Kosta Boda and Orrefors, are now under the same umbrella ownership, while many of the smaller works have been swallowed up, too, even though they retain their own names.

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