When TJ and I first heard that there was an area in Sweden where most of the country's glassblowers were located, we put it on our list of places to visit. The region is called the Kingdom of Crystal (glasriket, or glass realm, in Swedish). The home of glass royalty! How regal. If that weren't reason enough, TJ likes collecting glass objects. Hmmm, this may be a bit of an understatement. And I like one glass brand in particular - Kosta Boda. Besides, we smelled bargains. Glass factory outlets. How can you not find a deal there? So, a weekender to an area in southwestern Sweden called Småland. We brought the dogs along for added fun. Note: The images below link to my Picasa photo album with all trip photos.
Our first stop was the Boda glassworks and showroom. Boda was once a separate entity, but merged with Kosta-Boda. The factory was closed so we wandered through the showroom. No bargains to be found there. Luckily, this was not the main Kosta-Boda site. In an empty pasture, we exercised (read: wore out) the dogs. This way, they couldn't complain as we continued our tour of the Kingdom of Crystal.
The next stop was the Orrefors glassworks. The glassware here is a bit stuffier. Lots of stemware. And glass bowls that look like fancy ashtrays. Kinda pricey. Orrefors merged with Kosta-Boda in 1990. So, there was a Kosta-Boda store at Orrefors where this wonderful display was found.
These are my favorite Kosta-Boda glasses, called Mine. The Mine Collection includes glasses, tumblers, shot glasses, plates and bowls. We found some shot glasses in deep cobalt blue on sale. The purchase was prompted by a comment at a recent dinner party that we lacked a sufficient number of shot glasses. That situation has been remedied.
We eventually ended up at the Kosta glassworks. Kosta is Sweden's oldest glassworks and was founded in 1742. After wandering through the showrooms (TJ bought a small bowl), we entered the factory and watched a demonstration. Fascinating. But, it has to be a little monotonous to produce the same item with only slight variation.
One of our last stops was Transjö Hytta, a small glassworks with two Master glassmakers and two apprentices. When we arrived, the gallery appeared to be closed. We noticed an old barn next to a small stream and noticed movement. Upon closer inspection, there were two people inside rocking out to loud heavy metal music. As we approached, the music was turned way down. The two apprentices inside were in the middle of making a bowl. One, opened the gallery once he had delivered some color to the other artist at the prescribed time. TJ and I liked the work, but the signed pieces were expensive. TJ was leaning toward buying one of these despite the price. At that moment, one of the Masters came inside with a bowl that had a slight blemish. He priced it at nearly one-third the price for a similar bowl. In fact, he had only made three of these bowls; one of which was broken. That was good enough for TJ. Sold.
After a full day of glass perusing, it was time to head for Kalmar. We stayed in the Old Town area of this coastal city of 35,000. The building were old and charming. The town squares were reminiscent of grander European cities. For the rest of the evening we walked around with the dogs and explored the facades and cobblestone streets of the medieval town.
Back at the hotel, the dogs enjoyed playing hotel guest for a night. Zoey thought the beds were extremely comfortable.
The next day, we visited Kalmar Castle (slott, Swedish). Built in the 12th century, the castle underwent many structural improvements over the centuries. The well-preserved site includes cannons which used to protect its walls. Luckily, they don't work anymore (plugged with wood).
After our tour of the castle, we took the longest bridge in Sweden over to Öland, the second biggest island in Sweden. We headed South for a bit down the center of the island. Which was also the highest point on the island. And, it was here that we saw quite a few old windmills.
The island was long, so instead of driving all the way North or South, we opted to head East. There, we reached the Baltic Sea. And found an abundance of fossils in the rock formations on the shore. I brought a few back, including a partial Trilobite fossil. Yes, Geology Geek strikes again!
For more photos of our trip to Småland and The Kingdom of Crystal, click here.
Here are some of the items we purchased on our trip to the Kingdom of Crystal. Cobalt blue Mine shot glasses from Kosta-Boda.
Blue-green bowl from Transjö Hytta glassworks.