Novy Bor, Czech Republic
I had made arrangements in Novy Bor to stay in an apartment next to a wonderful glass studio named Ajeto. Ajeto is actually a complex of buildings and businesses that are owned by the renowned Czech glassblower, Petr Novotny. Ricardo was very gracious in giving me a ride over to the Ajeto complex from the Novy Bor Glass School. After checking in and dropping off my bags, Ricardo and I grabbed a delicious traditional lunch in the Ajeto restaurant. The dining room has a series of large windows that allow you to watch the brilliant glass-making of the Ajeto glass studio. After lunch we made our way to the Ajeto Museum.
The museum is actually Petr’s private collection. As one of the great glassblowers of our time, he has traveled the world to work with and for many other incredible artists and designers. These travels, friendships, and connections have allowed Petr to amass a collection of works from a “who’s who” of contemporary glass artists.
After peeling my jaw off the floor of the museum, Ricardo and I made our way down to the blowing floor of the studio/factory. The glassblowers were producing pieces with which I was very familiar. In the GlassMarket of The Corning Museum of Glass we sell several variations of the Juliska line of stem and tableware. I’ve had a great affinity for these pieces for many years now, and it was so nice to see the mastery behind their creation first-hand.
Petr was eager to show off more of his operation, and he led us down a long, curved ramp that opened up to the basement. As we made our way down and around the ramp, to our right side there must have been well over a hundred blow-molds for all sorts of different shapes and applications. The first room we came upon was the packing and shipping room. At this point Petr pointed out the he had worked with a Dutch architect on the design of the building. The ramp idea developed to allow much safer and simpler movement of finished work down from the blow floor and then back up for shipping. Every inch of the design of this building was thoroughly considered and absolutely brilliant. Petr’s genius goes far beyond his skills as a glass designer and maker.
Petr also informed me that his company was now making glassblowing tools. As we made our way to his tooling shop, we passed a wall that was covered with well-worn old tools of all sorts. As with most craftsmen, I have a great appreciation for tools of all sorts, but I had really been hoping to procure some tools of historical significance for the Museum on this trip. I managed to hit the jackpot with Petr’s collection of old tools later in the evening. We made a quick visit to Petr’s machine shop and chatted quickly with his tool-maker.
I had to keep moving because Petr insisted that I go to a new studio in town of which he was very proud. At this point, Ricardo had become completely sold on continuing the journey with me. Somehow, he had become my translator, driver, tour guide, and friend all in the course of a few hours. He was equally amazed by and interested in all the doors that continued to be opening both physically and metaphorically. So, we made the short drive to what had once been an old glass factory to find a newly renovated space containing studios for several artists. The group of artists and their joint business venture is known as Kolektiv. I’ll tell you about Kolektiv and the rest of this amazing day in my next post.