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Travel Guide: Glassblowing in Sweden’s ‘Kingdom of Crystal’

August 28, 2018

During my recent trip to Sweden and Denmark, I spent a couple days touring the area of Sweden known as the 'Kingdom of Crystal' and visited several master glassblowers and artisans. Here are some of my favorite things to do and see in Kosta.

During my recent Scandinavian explorations, I made the journey to Kosta, a region in Smaland, and the main town of many Glasriket villages known as the Kingdom of Crystal since 1742. Kosta is home to 13 factories and studios where world famous glassworks are created. The Glass Factory (pictured below, right) is the hub of many collaborations between companies, artists and glassblowers.

We spent a lot of time with master glassblower Micke Johansson (above, left) in his studio on his farm outside Orsjo. I saw his work at SOFA Chicago last fall and made a special trip to meet and watch him create his glass pieces freehand in his hotshop. Micke blows glass using incredibly advanced techniques. He is a favorite among collectors so of course, I had to buy a piece!

We then drove through the forest to the Transjo Hytta, a glass laboratory and watched Sven-Ake Carlsson and Jan-Erik Ritzman, two renowned master glassblowers of artglass, in their studio. Both had been employed at Kosta Boda for many years and are renowned for having created an apprentice system for students from all over the world as they come to develop their glass blowing skills.

The barn in which they showcased their pieces was quaint, as was the surrounding area. Their pieces were sprinkled in amongst nature in a trickling river, the fields and the woods. And once again, I purchased a beautiful piece of artglass from Sven-Ake Carlsson.

I was so enamored with the process of glassblowing that I’m taking a class at Ignite Glass Studios in Chicago in late September to learn more about the craft.

Where to stay:

  • Kosta Boda Art Hotel – This was a hotel like no other, it featured the work of seven glass artists, each given free rein to design the rooms throughout including the public spaces (think washrooms, outdoor patios, pool and hallways) and the restaurant and bar. It is a living showroom and every piece from Asa Jungnelius, Bertil Vallien, Anna Ehrner and Goran Warff were for sale. The bar was constructed entirely of cobalt blue glass and the counter was made using 4 tons of glass!

Where to eat:

  • Brasserie 1742 at the hotel. Named after the year in which glass furnaces were first lit in Kosta Glassworks.

What to do:

Susan Brunstrum
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