Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fifth Week

The last few weeks have been fairly eventful for us. Unfortunately we have not had a reliable internet connection, so I have been unable to update the blog until now.

I have been seeing some guys blowing glass out my studio window since I first got here. I finally found the time to take a walk and visit the studio. It is a production shop owned by an Arab fellow but with Czech blowers. They were very friendly and invited me to come in to watch the production and even allowed me to photo and record video of them working.

One of our close friends and a previous Fulbright Grantee from the states came to visit us. He is glass artist that is cooperating with Czech glass makers on a regular basis. During his stay with us we visited a local factory, Jilek Glass Factory. We met the creative director, Petr Larva. Later that evening we had the rare opportunity to meet Peter Rath. He is a very important figure in glass making in this area of the Czech Republic as well as in Vienna. He is part of the Lobmeyer family, which has had a significant investment in the development of the glass cutting industry in Kamenicky Senov.

The next weekend we went to Svetla nad Sazavou to visit a long time friend of ours who was having an opening celebration for his newly renovated factory. This factory makes glass making equipment and specializes in glass cutting equipment as well as having their own line of cut utilitarian glass and small cut sculptures. By my opinion they are one of the best manufacturers of cutting tools in the world.

After this event we continued on to our friend’s, the director of the school we are at, summer house not far from Svetla nad Sazavou. We made a stop at a book fare to visit a publisher friend of the director who was christening a new book. Here we found a great children’s book in Czech and English by Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, and illustrated by Jiri Sopko, a contemporary painter and head of the painting department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Sopko has an exhibition up right now in Prague. You can read about him at these addresses: and On our way, we also past through the small village of Lipnice. This is where the Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek lived. He is most famous for his book Good Soldier Švejk. You can read about Hašek and his book at this address:

We finally arrived and settled in. The next morning, on Saturday, we went mushroom hunting. We collected three different types of mushrooms filling two baskets. After cleaning them, my wife incorporated them in some wonderful pasta. The next morning our friend got up and made some mushrooms, “Czech Style”, according to him. After working in the yard for a few hours we headed out. On our way home we visited the city of Kutna Hora and Sedlec, part of Kutna Hora. Here we visited the St. Barbara Cathedral. They are currently making renovations of the masonary and stained glass. One of the instructors at the school has a father that is one of the professionals responsible for re-leading and restoring the stained glass in the cathedral. After this we visited Kutna Hora-Sedlec, Kostnice. This is a cathedral and ossuary that had something like 40,000 skeletons stored in and around it. In the late 1800’s and artist was directed to sculpt the interior of the ossuary with these bones. You should read more and view the images on the website. See it here at this address:

We made it home after a long and eventful day of sightseeing. The week has started of great. I have been working with the instructors of the school.

It seems that one of the local papers wrote an article about my stay at this school. You can see the article, in Czech, at this address: Then today we had a call from the Czech television station Prima who had read the article and wanted to do an interview. So this afternoon the Director of the school, Frantisek Janak, who was translating for me, and I had a very successful interview with Prima. It will be aired tomorrow in the evening between 5:30 and 6:00 PM.

Note: You will notice that I was able to include some pronunciation marks to the Czech names. I did this by cutting and pasting from the internet. Sorry I could not do it for all but I am working on it.

Fifth Week - Photos

1. My family and I with our mushroom harvest.
2. St. Barbara’s Cathedral
3. Having a drink with some friends
4. Glassblower blowing into a mold