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Project Harrach
Glasscollector.net

American and European Art glass - Victorian, Art Nouveau and Contemporary

 A Brief Introduction  -  How to ID Harrach Glass  -   Harrach Glass Factory Tour
Coming - Harrach Museum  -  Severn Harrach Collection   -   Project Harrach  


Harrach Factory 1712 Sign
 
A Pictorial Visit to the Harrach Glass Works
Article and Photo's by Brian Severn
 

Current Day Harrach Glass Works

One thing you have to love about glass is that not much has changed in the basic formulations for glass.  Most modern hand blown glass works don't look a whole lot different then glass works did 100 years ago, nor do the methods for actually making hand made glass articles.  

A glass maker today could go back to the glass furnaces of Thomas Webb & Sons and probably be ready to go in just a few minutes, just as could one of Webb's workers in Harrach's current facility (of course the Webb worker might be a little bewildered by Abba blasting away on the boom-box, but that's a different story :-)


Harrach Glory Hole

The glory hole.

Glory Hole Gather

First we see the glass worker getting a gather of molten glass straight from the
glory hole of the glass furnace. 

Initial Glass Shaping

Next we see him using a handled wooden cup like tool, that's been submersed in the
water tank to the right, to start shaping and cooling the molten glass so it can be
worked.

Glass Shaping Closeup
 
Close-up of the wooden cupping tool.

Harrach Glass Rod Cooling

Hey this rod is hot, let's cool it down a bit.  There's a pipe above the water as we can see here that sprinkles water over the blowpipe to help keep the temperature down.

Harrach Glass Handling 1

Next the glass is blown out a bit.

Harrach Glass Handling 2

Next the blowpipe is rested on a Y shaped stand so the glass blower can rotate the
glass as it's setting up.
 
Harrach Factory Glass Shaping

The molten glass has been handed off to the second glass worker
who uses another wooden cupped tool, but an elongated
one to help shape the glass in preparation for the mold.

Harrach Factory Glass Shapping

Here we see the glass being setup on wet newspaper while it's being worked.
 
Mold Transfer

Now it's in the process of being placed into the mold.

Harrach Factory - In the Mold

The glass worker is blowing the glass out into shape.

Harrach Factory - Out of the Mold

Now the glass is removed from the mold, and a two way hand-off takes place as this
piece is handed off to the next worker who will finish the shaping, and a newly worked gather
is readied for the mold.

Harrach Factory - Final Shaping

Here the glass is held above a tube that blows semi-cool air so that the piece can start to cool down and hold it's shape.  It's still semi-pliable at this point.  We can see what is presumably the base of the article being smoothed/flattened down.

Harrach Factory - Miller Time?

Hey what's this, is it Miller time?  Beer is a big part of Czech culture, and to say they make great beer (the best in the world?) would be like saying they make great glass :)   Yes the Harrach factory has it's own brewery on site, as well as a restaurant.  Several of the workers had glasses of beer sitting in their work areas.  The glass workers' beer is low alcohol (3.5%), so no need to worry about any catastrophic accidents (or sloppy glass).

Harrach Factory - Final Handling Punty Snap

Here we see the glass being scored as it's readied to be cracked off the blowpipe, and transferred to the annealing oven. 

Harrach Factory - Final Handling Annealing Handoff

The final handoff for the trip to the annealing oven.

Harrach Factory - On the way to the annealing oven

The entire process of creating this glass article,  from the glory hole to the annealing oven,  takes place in just over 90 seconds!