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29 October 2012

The Kingdom of Crystal – a fascinating outing

MapSometimes my husband, Sigge, and I need a break from the work at the computer, supporting and documenting the kalmstrom.com Outlook and SharePoint applications. We have two favorites for outings: nature walks and art experiences, and we have plenty of opportunities for both on Öland, the island where we live and work. However, last Saturday we took the bridge to the mainland and “Glasriket”, The Kingdom of Crystal.

VaaseInternational fame
It was a strange situation to frst drive through the Småland woods, seeing only trees and here and there a lake or a small cottage and then stop at Kosta, the biggest visitors center of The Kingdom of Crystal. When we left the car we found ourself surrounded by people from many countries, all here to see the glassworks.

English, German and Chinese were spoken nearly as much as Swedish. Tourists milled around to see the blowing at the furnace, eat the typical “hyttsill” (hot-shop herring) and of course make bargains in the shops.

Emigrant country
In a blog post about Swedish emigration I told you about the many Swedes who moved to the United States during the 1900th century, because of poverty and oppression. Many of them came from Småland, the part of Sweden which The Kingdom of Crystal belongs to.
Plate
Glassworks and woods
Others stayed in Sweden, and some of them sought their livelihood in the growing glass industry. For manual manufacturing of glass you need a lot of wood, and that was something they had plenty of in Småland – and still do. From the 18th century and through the 19th, many small glassworks were founded in what has now become known as The Kingdom of Crystal.
Glass Blower
Meeting places
As the furnaces had to be burning around the clock, the glassworks became welcome places of rest for vagabonds. They brought with them news from the outside world to the glass workers, and in the evenings they all gathered around the furnace, ate herring, told stories – and discussed politics!
Bowl
Målerås – a success story
Today some of the glass works have become famous all over the world, like Orrefors, Kosta and our favorite, the small but prestigious Målerås. You can find both everyday glass and world-class art glass at the glassworks, and the art glass is what interests Sigge and me the most. It is fantastic to see the wonders created in co-operation between glass blowers and designers.

WolfOne of the most well-known artists is Mats Jonasson, owner of the Målerås glassworks. He has gathered a group of capable people around him, and today Målerås is one of the most successful glassworks, represented all over the world. Sigge and I especially like Mats Jonasson’s glass casts with animals in crystal, and we are the happy owners of the howling wolf you see here to the right.

On the way back to Öland we made our last stop at Boda, where there is a grand exhibition of glass, with art works by many famous artists. We saw a lot of interesting pieces, and we promised ourselves to come back soon. Imagine, people coming from all over the world to visit The Kingdom of Crystal, and we only have to cross a bridge!