Steklarna Rogaška - The elegance of glass

December 2010

Rogaška Slatina is a little town in a pleasant valley in the middle of the Obsotelje region. Despite its small size it is famous for several world-renowned products and services. Rogaška Slatina boasts a thermal spring that is famous for the beneficial effects of its water; it is the location of one of the most prestigious spas in Slovenia; and it is home to a glassworks, Steklarna Rogaška, producing products of such refined elegance that they have found enthusiastic customers all over the world. Founded in 1927, the glassworks is today one of the leading producers of handmade, exclusive glassware. Over the course of its long history, Steklarna Rogaška has achieved a leading position among producers of top-quality handmade glassware, successfully exploiting its competitive advantages – chiefly design, supreme craftsmanship and rapid adaptability to changes – in markets around the world.

The Trump line

Photo: Rogaška archives

Steklarna Rogaška is a successful company which has recently signed an important deal in the USA. Through a tie-up with the American businessman Donald Trump, Slovenian crystal will now be sold under the Trump brand in the USA. Speaking at the Rogaška showroom in New York this October, Trump explained that his decision to work with Rogaška was influenced by the quality of the products and the professional attitude of the company. It may of course have helped that Trump's wife Melania is Slovenian. Donald Trump is well aware of the quality of Rogaška's products because he already uses them himself.

Rogaška currently does 50% of its business in the USA. The cooperation with Trump is for the time being focused on business gifts. A special range of crystal will be sold under the Trump Home and Trump Crystal Gifts brands, initially in the USA and then in Slovenia and around the world. Rogaška will be responsible for all production, which takes place in Slovenia, and also for packaging, distribution and sales. It will make decisions on points of sale and the prices of products, which will initially range from $25 to $600 before later moving past the $1000 mark.

Tradition

The glassworks in Rogaška Slatina is a symbol of tradition and the finest quality. The town's long glassmaking tradition is a guarantee that the glassmakers make skilful use of the raw materials that nature provides to create magically transparent glass, full of light, purity and sparkling beauty. It is a combination of creativity with the laws of nature and the properties of glass. To this masterly tradition, Rogaška has added state-of-the-art technology and contemporary design. The company collaborates with outstanding Slovenian designers, among them Tanja Pak, Oskar Kogoj and Jani Vozelj.

Just as the spa boasts a tradition dating back several centuries, so is the glassmaking industry in Rogaška Slatina based on the long tradition of forest glassworks that are described in historical records dating from at least 1665. These medieval glassmaking workshops made objects for everyday use from clear and green glass and also from coloured, cut and painted glass and gilded glass. The advent in the 19th century of industrial glassworks using new sources of energy put an end to the old glassmaking workshops, which for the most part were located in forested areas.

Today's glassmakers, who skilfully employ modern techniques and technology, are still fascinated by the richly decorated and shaped products of their predecessors. All this proves that in this field there is always a human being in the foreground: the glassblower, the glasscutter. Handwork is the result of cooperation between the individual and the technique, yet even so the most valuable element is still expert experience.

Processes

Steklarna Rogaška produces two types of glass: lead crystal glass, which is later sold as polished or cut glass, and crystalline glass, which is sold in painted, polished or cut form. Glass products are created from a special mixture of quartz sand, calcinated soda, red lead, ash and calcite or limestone. To this basis, colourants or decolourants are added (for colouring or removing unwanted colours). The mixture is melted in furnaces at 1,450°C. Individual products are shaped in moulds made on the basis of a drawing. The glassmaker takes a small quantity of molten glass on the end of a glass pipe and then, by blowing into it, blows a bulb, the shape of which depends on the kind of product he intends to make. The bulb is the basis for taking a new portion of molten glass, which the glassblower shapes in the mould and, by blowing, forms into the desired shape. When the product has been blown and the bottom made, the product, now at a temperature of 500°C, is ready for cooling. Cooling must take place slowly in order to avoid thermal stress which could cause cracking at later stages. Later, the cap of the product is cut off and the edges are cut and sealed. Lead crystal is decoratively cut by hand. Glasscutters used traditional (carborundum) cutting wheels of different degrees of fineness. Since 1972 diamond cutting wheels have also been used. Now all that remains is to polish the product, making it so clear as to refract light causing iridescent sparkles.

The trained hands of glassblowers and glasscutters give products a refinement that a machine cannot give them. Many shapes and patterns are the result of the creative and precise work of designers and all those who contribute to the final appearance and brilliance of the product during the various phases of production.

Many of the products of the Rogaška glassmakers achieve the level of works of art, and the effort of many skilled professionals is invested in them. Noble beverages are decanted into Rogaška products; gastronomic specialities are served in them; crystal candlesticks help create the atmosphere. For all moments and occasions.


In recent years Steklarna Rogaška has also produced precious crystal trophies for the winners of important sports competitions, notably winter sports such as skiing and ski jumping. They have also produced trophies for those chosen as sports personalities of the year. Recipients of trophies produced by the glassmakers of Rogaška include Michael Schumacher, Svetlana Khorkina, Björn Borg and many others.

Text by Polona Prešeren, Sinfo, December 2010 

For more information: www.rogaska-crystal.com