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Bohemia Brilliance

Moser still prides itself on handcrafting crystal that is fit for a king, but made for everyone


Posted: September 14, 2011

By Megan Battista - Staff Writer | Comments (3) | Post comment

Bohemia Brilliance

Courtesy Photo

Opposite Manually engraved crystal vases represent the top craftsmanship. Above: The Lady Hamilton stemware collection in six classic Moser colors. Below: Crystal fruit bowl with golden relief from the Lady Hamilton Collection.

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More than 150 years ago Ludwig Moser started engraving Bohemian Crystal in a little workshop in Karlovy Vary. Little did he know his master craftsmanship was the beginning of a handmade glass tradition that would be admired by all - the choice of celebrities, queens and kings around the world.

"There is a reason we are called 'King of Glass, Glass of Kings,' " said Richard Ullisch, marketing director for Moser Glass. "Every piece is special because it is handmade and handcrafted. Moser is unique glass meant for unique people, not just royalty."

The popularity and brilliance of the nonlead crystal glass pieces Moser engraved and painted in his small shop forced him to open his own  glass factory in 1893, which is still in operation in the spa town today.  The factory, which currently employs 320 glass artists, afforded Moser the opportunity to expand beyond engraving and gold-leaf painting, into more decorative items and hand-blown pieces.

"We still use the same techniques today as Moser did when he opened his factory," Ullisch said. "We have a responsibility to continue the tradition. It's rare to find hand-cut or handmade pieces of glass art today because so many people use machines, but what Moser creates cannot be made by machines."

One of the main reasons machines couldn't be used is exactly what sets Moser apart from other glass companies worldwide: lead-free crystal.

Crystal glass sounds different, feels different and looks different when compared side by side with other glass, Ullisch said. Moser used non-lead Crystal, which was an abundant natural resource in the Bohemian countryside in the late 1800s, because it is harder than leaded crystal. Engraving on leaded crystal goes too deep because it is soft, so it's much more difficult to have intricate designs - such as the type Moser is known for.

The intricate designs can be seen in Moser's classic drinking sets, such as the diamond-cut, gold embellished Splendid line - which is a best-seller that is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year - as well as Moser's vases, bowls and master art collection pieces. This special attention to detail is what made Moser so popular with royalty, such as King Edward VII, Queen Elizabeth II, King Haakon VII of Norway, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Pope Pius XI and even modern-day celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Elton John.

 In addition to its more classical designs, Moser has continued to create handcrafted pieces in more contemporary designs, still showcasing the six Moser colors: aquamarine (light blue), rosalin (rose), alexandrite (light violet), beryl (light green), eldor (light yellow) and topas (honey brown). Contemporary pieces are also offered in bar or drinking sets and design pieces such as vases and bowls.

"Our mission is to create designs that are luxurious and functional," Ullisch said. "People buy luxury special edition cars, but they are not just for display. People drive them, and the same is true for our crystal glass: It's not for a museum. It's a masterpiece that you can put a flower in or drink from. Moser is about bringing beauty into people's homes." l

blam, commy niamet


Megan Battista can be reached at
features@praguepost.com

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