In 1826 two Frenchmen bought a deserted building and opened a crystal manufactory. The company became world famous. The factory reached its pinnacle shortly before WWI when every day more than 5000 people made about 160.000 crystal items. The crystal glass, vases and other decorative elements found their way to houses all over the world. The manufactored crystal was and is still famous for its purity and exceptional brilliance. Besides the daily production exceptional collectors items where made.
The depression of the 1930's changed everything. From then on the sales kept going down and, although the government kept subsidizing the plant until 1987, it never found its old glory back. A part of this ancient old glory is left abandoned, falling into decline. In 1987 a manager bought the factory and succeeded in making it relatively successful again. But in the fall of 2008 the court of commerce declared the bankruptcy of the company. As causes the rising raw material prices have blown up the need for liquid assets of the company. But also the failed search to find a financial, industrial or commercial partner.
There’s an old abandoned [by now sadly enough ripped and trashed] and a newer active and well secured part of this ancient crystal company. Of course I’ve only visited the old part of this beautiful factory. The older one has been stopped for a very long time now showing a ancient craftsmanship, and the newer one has just ceased its activities recently and, as in previous times operating worldwide again.
The outside was not revealing the surprisingly beauty inside, with my face pressed up against the broken glass I took a look inside. What I found was well worth the risk, and off I went. There are a lots of things left everywhere, old wooden boxes, glassworks both broken and/or unfinished, classic glass molds, original handmade collection of glass blueprints. A very stunning sight to enjoy. All those different handwritings and illustrations slowly fading to grey. Old business documents spread around the office area, to dust covered support machinery and old wooden work tables with rusty tools hanging on the cupboards.
RAW GLASS PRODUCTION:
The entire stage of production, is still done by hand, the 'know how' gained is preserved. The original wood, aluminum or steel tools and molds are still used. The ingredients sand, oxidized lead, soda, potash and borax in combination with the technique of the artist, creating an heated combination that gives life to crystal in her purest form. Also here it seems like the last day of activity was just yesterday.
BROKEN CRYSTAL - JAN STEL - 2014
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