The engraver quickly and deftly applies the sparkling blue glass to the small, rotating diamond wheel in the engraving machine. Gradually the image on the glass becomes clearer - first the body, then the limbs, finally the finer details of the body and a wild mane. It is a lion, surrounded by a typical African steppe landscape.
“Very good engravers, such as ours, make the image look particularly real and alive by engraving the coloured glass layer at different depths. This creates the wonderful shading in the engraved picture“, explains Max Freiherr von Schnurbein, owner of the Theresienthal crystal glass factory in Zwiesel in the middle of the Bavarian Forest. This is one of the “Kilimanjaro” glasses in the most popular range produced by the factory.
Manual craftsmanship is highly valued at Theresienthal. “Everything is done here, from blowing and grinding to engraving and painting. This is a rarity in today’s glass craft industry”, says the 48-year old.
Historically important: Hand-crafted glass production from Lower BavariaThe Bavarian Forest is famous for its glass production. Many manufacturers are based here. “The glass industry was always located in the Low Mountains, even during the time of the Romans,” the owner explains. Valuable raw materials such as quartz for the glass mix and wood for energy can be found here. In earlier times the glass-makers used the mountain streams to drive their machines.
Some of the Theresienthal glass workers are the fifth generation in their families to be working for the company. And the local traditionalist von Schnurbein is delighted to be able to be part of this historically important sector. “It’s my job to take what is typical for the Lower Bavarian region out into the rest of the world.”
The regal history of Theresienthal glass manufactureJust like glass production in the region, the Theresienthal company also has a long history. It has been producing glassware since 1836. King Ludwig I wanted to fill his castles with luxurious chalices, glasses and dishes in the finest hand-crafted glass.
Visitors can see these historic objects at the Theresienthaler Museumsschlösschen museum in Zwiesel. Or they can visit the Museum of the Bavarian Kings in Hohenschwangau, Linderhof Palaceor Neuschwanstein Castle.
Some of the glasses have a wide, embellished gold edge or carry engraved hunting scenes. The designs of many of the ranges are reminiscent of the glory of a past age. Part of the current collection comprises replicas of old designs. Nobility as well as the rich and famous around the world still drink out of Theresienthal glasses today.
“Made in Bavaria” seal of qualityTheresienthal is indeed “‘Made in Germany‘, but because people tend to link “German design” with concepts like understated simplicity and technology, we see ourselves more as Bavarian Baroque,” says von Schnurbein. Zwiesel is his home. “If you grow up here you can’t help but keep returning. What I love about Lower Bavaria is that the landscape is so varied. It has a certain austere beauty.”
A visit to the Theresienthal factory is as enticing as the Bavarian Forest. “Many visitors who only come to watch the manufacturing process can’t resist our glasses when they see the extraordinary workmanship with their own eyes.