The Kingdom of Crystal
The Kingdom of Crystal is a region famous for its traditional Swedish craftmanship of glass products and artworks. The glass industry in the area dates back all the way to 1742 and since then, hundreds of glassworks have been manufacturing and designing glass in the region. Among the first were Orrefors and Kosta Boda, who both emerged to gain international success during the 20th century for their artistic and ingenious designs of glass products.
(Glass is an ancient and remarkably simple material, typically consisting of sand, sodium carbonate and limestone, and a wide variety of metal oxides which give the glass products their rich, vibrant colors)
There are currently 13 glassworks still in operation in The Kingdom of Crystal. These, now historical, establishments are attracting people from all over the world and have been keeping the proud heritage of the area alive for generations.
The craftmanship and know-how of the industry have been developed and refined over the years in The Kingdom of Crystal. Today, some of the most skilled and renowned artisans are working in the area, and vistors have the chance to witness their traditional glassblowing process at first-hand (or even try it themselves as several of the old-fashioned glassworks offer regular classes and quicker “try out” sessions where anyone can give it a shot). It’s an amazing experience to see the liquid, beaming glass slowly turn into magnificent works of art, all done by hand the way it always has been.
(The glass furnaces can reach temperatures above 1100 °C / 2012 °F)
Most of the 13 glassworks offer regular glassblowing shows, workshops, product exhibitions and glass markets year-round. Guided courses and instructed glassblowing sessions (as well as easier workshops for kids) can be booked in advance if you are interested in attempting the craft. The prices vary a lot depending on course length and what you feel like creating (crystal bowls, glasses, vases etc.), but are typically starting from 200 SEK up to around 2000 SEK for group classes. You can either pick your items up the next day, when they have cooled down and solidified, or have them delivered to you for a fee if you are unable to stay.
The glassworks own shops and markets are great places for finding crystal at bargain prices. Designer drinking glass sets, bowls, sculptures and decanters, for example, may go for half the price of the more expensive stores in Stockholm and Gothenburg. While the most discounted items might be slightly flawed (color and other minor aesthetic deviations), the quality is still very high.
Read more about the different glassworks and their available workshops and courses here.
About the area
The glassworks in The Kingdom of Crystal are located in four adjacent municipalities in Småland in southeastern Sweden; Emmaboda, Lessebo, Nybro and Uppvidinge, all within 30 minutes drive from each other.
The region is a very popular place to visit in Sweden, but it’s not only the glassworks that are attracting guests – the surrounding rural area may actually be the most charming and sightly countryside in Sweden. Småland has a beautiful rolling landscape and the the country is full of farmsteads, peaceful forests and lakes (you might imagine it’s what Sweden looked like long ago).
In fact, there are around 5000 lakes in Småland which makes the region a great destination during the summer. You will notice that there are plenty of things to do besides glassblowing and you’ll find lots of opportunities for hiking, cycling, swimming and fishing in the area.
(View of the majestic Kalmar Castle)
About 30 kilometers from The Kingdom of Crystal, out to the eastern coast of Sweden, is the city of Kalmar; a place of rich cultural heritage that has played an important part in Swedish history. Kalmar has a very eventful past and is together with Sigtuna one of the oldest cities in Sweden. Between the 13th and 17th century, Kalmar was also one of the most powerful cities and more than a few battles has been fought for its sovereignty. Don’t miss the mighty Kalmar Castle if you stop by – once a critical stronghold that have held its ground during several periods of Sweden’s more violent past…
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