Artel specializes in handcrafted Bohemian crystal glassware. Since founding Artel in 1998, American designer Karen Feldman has built a globally recognised brand, opened three retail stores, and authored an award-winning Prague travel guidebook. In this blog post, we guide you through the glass making processes.
This ancient craft, developed over 2,000 years ago, is at the heart of everything ARTĚL produces. Glassblowing involves using a blowpipe to inflate molten glass into a bubble and then manipulating it by hand, using wooden molds together with variations in blowing pressure, to achieve a desired shape.
The range of creative possibilities is astounding – including everything from tiny liqueur glasses to huge vases and bowls – and the quality and clarity of ARTĚL’s mouth-blown crystal is unsurpassed.
"Cut glass" refers to crystal glassware that has been decorated entirely by hand using rotating abrasive wheels to cut patterns into the glass surface. One of the oldest traditional methods of glass decoration, cut glass dates back many centuries, with artifacts from the six century B.C. indicating its use by the ancient Romans and Babylonians. The technique reached the Czech Republic by the end of the sixteenth century, and soon became a defining element of Bohemian crystal design.
Today, with equipment that has remained virtually unchanged since then (except for the introduction of electrical motors in the last century), ARTĚL’s team of skilled artisans uses this labor-intensive technique to create modern interpretations of classic designs.
Engraving is the practice of etching designs onto a glass surface using a variety of diamond and stone grinding wheels. First developed in the mid-1500s, engraving became popular in the 17th century. Our team of highly skilled artisans carries on this tradition, using equipment that has remained virtually unchanged since then (except for the relatively recent introduction of electrical motors) to create many of ARTĚL’s most intricately detailed design motifs.
Engraving crystal glassware entirely by hand is an incredibly time consuming, labor-intensive process: some especially detailed pieces, such as the Woodland bowl, require as much as 48 hours of work to complete.
Some of ARTĚL’s most interesting motifs are created using a technique known as sandblasting, a multi-step process developed in 1886 in which glass is ground by hand to produce a matte finish. In the first step of this process, a stencil-like “mask” must be applied by hand to each piece. A special gun is then used to apply a pressurized spray of grinding sand to the unmasked areas. This requires great skill on the part of the artisan, who must control the texture and depth of the design by varying the volume and duration of each sandblast.
Sandblasting not only produces striking visual contrasts between the clear and matte-finished crystal in any given piece, but also creates a wonderful texture that is very satisfying to the touch.
From exquisite renderings of tiny flowers and delicate branches to meticulously detailed depictions of insects and butterflies, the variety and impeccable quality of ARTĚL’s hand painted motifs are truly spectacular to behold.
They are also rather difficult to produce, requiring a painstaking process that takes days to complete, since each color requires a specific temperature and a different day for firing.