news school education gallery events links contact
history of the school teachers tour artistic personalities

The oldest glass making school in Europe

The tradition of glass making schools in the Czech Republic has lasted for almost one hundred and fifty years and they have been of great importance both for glass making and for art culture. The whole system of secondary art technical schools, which not just glass making but also jewel, ceramics, fabric and graphic making schools belong to, is very unique and after the Czech republic is accepted by the Europe Union, it can be one of the most significant contributions to its development. The largest concentration of these school is in the capital city Prague and in the Liberec region, where there are three secondary art glass making schools, one glass making school and one glass making college. The main task of all these schools is to educate skilled glass maker and foremen, professional glass technicians and technologists, production designers, company managers and entrepreneurs, but some school leavers study at technical and especially art universities. Then they become glass artists and teachers and also painters, sculptors and restorers.

The first school leavers studied at the College of Applied Arts in Vienna in the 1870s already and others followed them. In the 1920s and 1930s some of them attended the College of Applied Arts in Prague, which has educated future glass artists in special glass studios for over eighty years. Over twenty post war leavers, Vladimir Jelinek, Rudolf Jurnikl, Vladimir Kopecky, Ladislav Oliva, Jan Novotny, Vratislav Sotola, painter František Janula living in France and others studied at this college in the 1950s and over thirty leavers have studied there since the beginning of the 1960s (Jiri Suhajek, Ivo Rozsypal, Vladimir Klein, Frantisek Janak, Stanislav Honzik, Ivan Mares, Jan Mares, Ivana Masitova, Jan Jelen, Martin Velisek, Alena Matejkova, Jana Voldrichova, Pavel Mrkus, Petr Larva, Radek Stehlik, Lada Semecka, Anna Polanska and others).

Tip: click to enlarge pictures

The precursor of the glass making school in Kamenicky Senov was the Sunday school for drawing, which was founded for local school pupils, glass apprentices and makers in 1839. The glass making school was established in 1956 as local producer wished it to ensure professional preparation of local glass painter and engraver and to influence the art, craft and technical level of glass making by school principals and teachers. Since the middle of the 19th century a high level of Bohemian glass making has been maintained by leavers of this school, too.

Till the end of the 1870s students learnt only drawing and modeling at this school; they learnt glass handicraft in home workshops. Since the beginning of the 1980s they have learnt glass painting, engraving and later glass cutting and sandblasting at school. To the posts of school principals and teachers graduates from colleges of applied arts have been appointed, skilled glass painters, engravers and cutters have led their students in school workshops. The good results of the school of Kamenicky Senov accelerated the decision to found a similar school in Nový Bor too (1870). The experiences of both schools were used then by founders of glass making schools in Zwiesel (1904) and Zelezny Brod (1920).

Among the students’ and their teachers’ works there are glass paintings and engravings influenced by historical style and oriental motifs of the 1880s and 1890s, painted, engraved and especially colored cased and through cut vases in the style of Art Nouveau, objects in Art Deco style of the 1920s and in functional trend of the 1930s and all of them have a high craft and art level. Other extraordinary works were formed in the late 1940s. They were created after young Czech artists had come in 1945. The leading personality was Rene Roubicek. The promising development of artistic school activities ended by its closing down (1952), but after five years (1957) its work was renewed. Until the end of 1961 the school was a subsidiary of the glass making school in Nový Bor. After that it became independent. It began by traditional glass painting and cutting sections and a new section of light creating and construction. In 1969 the glass engraving section was founded. These are the four sections the school consists of at present and remarkable results are achieved in all of them. Since the beginning of 1990s glass blowing at a microwave-melting furnace and at a gas flame, creating melted sculptures, modeling flat glass in an electric furnace, printing graphic sheets from glass plates (vitrography) and other techniques including computer graphic have been taught here. The studies have lasted for four years and are closed by a school leaving examination.

Since 2006 Frantisek Janak (*1951) a leaver of the Secondary School of Glassmaking in Kamenicky Senov and graduated from the College of Applied Arts in Prague has been the principal of the school and following teachers-artists have been taught here: Petr Mens (*1943), graduated from the College of Applied Arts in Prague, since 1996 as a leader of the section of glass shaping, painting and etching, Frantisek Novak (1942 - 2007), a leaver of the Art glass making school in Zelezny Brod and graduated from the College of Applied Arts in Prague, since 1990 as a leader of the section of glass engraving, Jitka Skuhrava (*1976), a leaver of the Secondary School of Glassmaking in Kamenicky Senov and graduated from the College of Applied Arts in Prague, since 2006 a leader of the section of glass cutting and Martina Klimosova (*1978), graduated from the design studio of the College of Applied Arts in Zlin, since 2000 as a leader of the section of lighting objects design.

The school declares itself as a successor of Bohemian glass making and it has existed for one hundred and fifty years. They collaborate with the company Preciosa-Lustry, Brother Jilek's Glassworks and Peter Rath's Studio in Kamenicky Senov, with Moser's Glassworks in Carlsbad and other companies, they participate in International Symposiums of Engraved Glass in Kamenicky Senov and exhibits in this country and abroad. They collaborate with the glass making school in Rheinbach and other schools, arrange students' stays, museum and gallery visits and are incorporated in the LEONARDO European education programme of students and young workers. They enable foreign persons interested in glass to study in both short-term and long-term (one-year) courses and after evaluating their results they are given a certificate.

Antonin Langhamer

art historian, living in the Czech Republic