Glass Factory Tour at RÜCKL CRYSTAL a.s.
Quick disclaimer: All the information I got was from a guided tour of the factory, for which I had to pay. There are no sponsors involved in this, and everything is purely from observation, asking questions and the guide’s explanations.
It was a bright and sunny day, a little cold, but it was bearable. It’s April so spring is just starting to bud. There is a buzz at the glass factory. A French tour had just ended, and I was there waiting for the English tour.
Some background: Ruckl Crystal a.s. works with 24% leaded crystal (read more about the difference between glass and crystal here). It cares about the environment (yay for that), and one of its main export destinations is Singapore so I won’t be surprised if the only vase I’ve seen at home holding flowers that dad got for mom is from there!
Here’s a little bit of what I saw, and the processes that go on behind the crystal home ware we see in the department stores.
Moulds used for blowing glass are typically made of wood from the oak or pear tree (more often oak for its strength), or from iron. Wood moulds lasts about 400 blows before they start to burn up and loose its shape. We didn’t get to see any moulds being made, but I’m guessing it uses the wood turning method, but I could be wrong!
The glass is then trimmed and sanded so we don’t cut ourselves when we use it (#thoughtful) And then it’s off to the glass cutting department where all the grooves we see are hand cut.
All designs found on Nizbor glass ware is hand cut in the cutting department. There are about 4 steps to just the cutting process alone! Each person is responsible for one kind of cut or one part of a design, so each piece you see is the result of many pairs of skilled hands. I’m quite sure these aren’t the actual, technical words for it, but this is what I’ve got for now. If you have any knowledge on this, please share it with us!
1. Grid lines
Grid lines are painted on with a paint that fades off with every wash that the glass undergoes after every step of cutting. These have to be super exact, otherwise everything after that just becomes wonky.
2.Large deep cuts
The larger cuts are made, but they’re too sharp to just be left that way. After the first cuts are made, they’re placed in an acid that eats away at the glass, making the glass smoother and the edges not too sharp.
3. Small shallow cuts
The same process is repeated from above, but for smaller cuts, and then it’s put in acid again to round up the edges. They’re then given a good wash and passed on.
The final tiny detailed cuts like a small star or a stroke at the side are put in at the end. They’re then rinsed and sent to the next department where each piece is quality checked and then boxed.
All the glass that gets rejected - the trimmed off bits, the wonky blown pieces, and rejected finished pieces - end up in the scrap bin. They are all then melted down and used again so there is #nowaste! Try Wonder 200% supports this no waste process!
From Prague, it’s probably more convenient to book a tour with trip advisor where travelling is sorted for you. But it’s definitely a lot more budget friendly to make your way there yourself. I was on a super strict budget so I made travel arrangements myself and called the factory directly.
I originally booked 2 trains that would take me Nizbor (1-minute walk from the station) from Prague, but I missed the second train. So I ended up taking the bus from Beroun instead. The bus isn’t an option on Google Maps for some reason, so ask the staff there. Everyone is really friendly and helpful, so even if they don’t speak english, they’ll bring you to someone who can.
The bus to get is number 222 from the station, and it’s the second last stop, so about half an hour journey. Track yourself closely on google maps / Rome 2 Rio app (this is a great app for travelling, especially for use on the laptop!)
Buses and trains run at fairly spread out intervals, so if you’re going, make sure you’ve got the timings right. And call ahead to book a slot on the tour because there’s not really any fixed tour schedule.