Exploring Thüringen – Lauscha and the tradition of glass making

In August 2022, we explored Thuringia. We have already been at Neustadt an der Orla, Saalberg with Burgk and Schleiz, Plothen with its ponds, the dams of the upper Saale, and Lehesten.

Let us now have a look at Lauscha with its tradition of glass making, particularly for Christmas.

 

Lauscha, the craddle of Christmas decoration made out of glass

It is said that Lauscha is the cradle of Christmas decoration made out of glass. It all started with a poor glass blower that could not afford to buy fruit for his Christmas tree, and he just made it out of glass. Like these pear, orange, nut and apple…

…and, in addition, glass bells and bulbs.

This is another Christmas tree decoration made at Lauscha around 1930.

Lauscha is famous for Christmas decoration and sells it all year round. 

The parking space is full of cars. Amongst them, I park my Swiss Audi.

 

The museum of glass making – wonderful

The Christmas World and Outlet building hosts a wonderful small museum that presents glass products and their history. 

When the Roman empire decayed, people in Europe lost the knowledge of glass making. Based on some antique Latin sources, the knowledge was acquired again in medieval times, and glass factories emerged, often connected with monasteries. 

The museum shows various techniques for glass making. 

This is spun glass. The vessel is pervaded by glass threads that can have different colours. 

The technique was invented on the island Murano near Venice in the 16th century.

This glass has been decorated with enamel paintings (Email-Malerei). Using a brush, the colour (made out of bound glass powder) is painted on to the glass and burnt in at a temperature of 500-600 degrees.

Beinglas, literally bone glass, has been blurred with bone ash. It almost looks like porcelain. The technique was invented at Venice in the 16th century.

Once Johann Friedrich Böttger had invented the porcelain, the interest in bone glass declined, with one exception: Artificial eyes. In 1820, the glass blower Lukas Müller-Uri made glass eyes for dolls. In 1832, the medical professor Heinrich Adelmann convinced him to think about making artificial eyes for people. In 1835, Müller-Uri succeeded. From 1844, he presented his artificial eyes at trade and industry exhibitions worldwide. He received numerous prizes. The eyes could be adapted to the eye muscles and were almost indistinguishable from real eyes.

I could not move away  – these eyes looked at me and looked at me …

The production of artificial pearls was another branch. In 1789, 21 factories at Lauscha produced such pearls for the worldwide market. They were even exported to China, East India and St. Petersburg. These pearls look almost real, do they not?

Besides teaching history, the museum shows graceful glass sculptures, such as these dancers …

… or the hunting scene, made around 1935.

A terrarium has been made out of glass… what a surprise, I would never have had the idea to order anything like that… interesting.

In addition, the centre allows to watch glass blowers at work. Our glass blower added a red hoof to a faun that should be seated on a motorcycle. Someone had ordered this. Not exactly our taste. While we watch the red hoofs growing slowly, the glass blower tells us about restaurants and hotels in the area that we should visit. Well, okay, what does my friend always say: “Land und Leute”, meaning: “I am experiencing the country and the people”. 

 

A look at the shop for Christmas decoration – people buy now, in August

The outlet shop has a huge selection of Christmas decoration, such as these green bulbs and bells, …

… or these winter landscapes.

We move on to other shops in the village to check out their Christmas decoration.

Would you eat these sweets? The shop warns: “Bitte nicht essen! = please do not eat!” 

Later, I am almost tempted to buy some of these decorative fruit plates.

However, I have already enough plates and glass can break too easily, when transported. I do not buy the plates and take a picture instead.

 

Strolling through Lauscha

The village is cut off from the north by another of those Thuringian construction places that force cars to drive many, many unexpected detour kilometers. 

The houses of Lauscha crouch in a narrow valley. The slates of the Thuringia Slate Mountains cover some of them completely … 

… and decorate others.

I admire the technique. Houses with slate shingles are beautiful and durable.

We return to our castle at Eyba and enjoy dinner in the castle courtyard. 

 

Overview map of our journey through Thuringia

Lauscha is located in the Thuringian Slate Mountains (Thüringisches Schiefergebirge) south of Saalfeld.

With Lauscha, we end exploring the mountains of Thuringia. Tomorrow, we will turn north to the lowlands. Weimar will be our first target.

 

Sources:

  • Explanatory panels in the glass museum
  • Heidi Schmitt, “Thüringen Reiseführer”, Michael Müller Verlag 2020
  • Dina Stahn, “Bädeker Reiseführer Thüringen”
  • Hans Müller, “Thüringen”, Dumont Kunstreiseführer 1998

2 thoughts on “Exploring Thüringen – Lauscha and the tradition of glass making

  1. […] we explore Thüringen. For a week, we stay at the castle Eyba near Saalfeld. After having visited Lauscha and Lehesten in the Slate Mountains of Thuringia from here, we next check out the Via Regia with […]

  2. Remarkable, from glass eyes to Christmas baubles! Glass is surprisingly durable. Thank you!

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