July 16, 2010

Kingdom of Crystal, Part 1

Thursday and Friday we spent in The Kingdom of Crystal, a region of Sweden famous for the glassworks - blown, etched, molded and recycled! Once over 300 glassblowers had factories here; now there are 16. This was easily the highlight of my trip.

First we stopped for coffee in Växjö, wandering the cobblestone streets and noting the architecture, very traditional, baskets of flowers just bursting with color everywhere, hanging from porches, filling containers, spilling the smell of roses into the streets. The Swedish people take their ice cream very seriously, and everywhere were little stalls selling Glace.

Next we visited Lessebo, where we watched them make hand-made paper from rags and linen, using a huge zinc press to dry the individual sheets. Established in 1693, today an exclusive product mainly used for finer documents, we got to see how they made watermarks and what happened to an unfortunate spider that fell into a vat of soaking paper mush.

 This is a tower of glass, filled with bowls, vases, sculptures, and these incredible glass heads, in a range of colors that kept shifting as you walked around the perimeter. It was such a massive piece of art, really impressive, and somehow you just wanted to reach in and see if you could shift one of the pieces, like a giant game of jenga.

We went on the visit Kosta Boda, Orrefors, Mäleräs, Pukeburg, which has an outstanding school of design, and ended in Kalmar. We stopped for lunch for a little bakery outside of Mats Jonasson glassworks for shrimp sandwhiches and the ubiquitous coffee seemingly served everwhere. 

Photos by Siv, 2010