A Crystal Legacy Preserved
Passionate supporters of learning opportunities in glass engraving, Charles Nitsche and his late wife, Mary Lammon Nitsche, have a lengthy history of involvement and support for The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass—and have most recently made a gift to support a new Engraving Studio as part of the StudioNEXT expansion project.
“In the 1950s, I lived in Painted Post and Mary lived in Corning. Both of our fathers worked for Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated). As youngsters, we both visited the Glass Center (now The Corning Museum of Glass) many times. In 1967, we both had summer internships,” reflects Charles about the early years of the Museum and the couple’s personal history with glass in Corning, NY.
But the passion for glass in the Nitsche family began long before Charles and Mary, as the skilled tradition of glass engraving was passed down through the generations in Corning. At the height of the “Crystal City’s” cut-glass production era, Charles’s great-grandfather Josef, trained as a copper-wheel engraver in the North Bohemian region of the present-day Czech Republic, heard about engraving opportunities in Corning and immigrated to America. By 1893 his family had joined him, and Corning became home to the Nitsche family of engravers. Clement Nitsche (Charles’s grandfather) began an apprenticeship as a teenager with Josef Nitsche and eventually became a partner in the Nitsche & Son Glass Engraving Establishment. The shop’s customers included large companies such as the Hunt Glass Company and Steuben Glass Works. During the late 1930s, Steuben Glass Works began a copper-wheel engraving apprentice program, and the company hired Clement as a teacher/mentor for the program, where he worked until retiring at the age of 70 in 1950.
Charles’s relationship with The Studio started in 1998 in a glass engraving class taught by engraver Jìři Harcuba. “Jìři was truly an outstanding artist, teacher, and human,” says Charles. “We were fortunate to spend time with him in Prague in 2013. During that visit, he encouraged me to continue my glass engraving with Pavlína Čambalová, and I am so glad I did! Pavlína is a direct link to Jìři and is an outstanding artisan in her own right. Both Jìři and Pavlína encouraged me to continue my research and writing of my ongoing project: A Trail of Glass: The Nitsche Men of The Lathe from Bohemia to England to Corning,” explains Charles.
Charles’s writing in the collection of the Rakow Research Library preserves the Nitsche glass engraving tradition through the Nitsche & Son Glass Engraving Archive at the Library and in his accompanying booklet, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Nitsche & Son Glass Engraving Archive in the Rakow Research Library.
Thanks to donors like Charles and Mary, the bright future of StudioNEXT will include glass engraving. Learn more at studionext.cmog.org.
1 comment » Write a comment