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Bohemian glass button – long history but the future?

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A special branch of the glass jewellery production represents hand-pressing of the glass buttons. The Bohemian glass buttons used to be the key accessory for clothing industry before the plastic buttons flood the world. The Bohemian glass button made in Jablonec nad Nisou was exported in the whole world including Americas and Africa.

Bohemian glass button – long history but the future?

The traditional Bohemian glass button made in Jablonec nad Nisou

In the northern part of the Czech Republic, 100 km from the capital Prague, is situated a small town Jablonec nad Nisou. Jablonec nad Nisou is placed in the Jizerske mountains and became famous for the production of glass and metal costume jewellery. Even today many small and medium enterprises produce and export costume jewellery made in Jablonec nad Nisou. The founder of the world-wide known brand Swarovski was born short distance away.

A special branch of the glass jewellery production represents hand-pressing of the glass buttons. The Bohemian glass buttons used to be the key accessory for clothing industry before the plastic buttons flood the world. The Bohemian glass button made in Jablonec nad Nisou was exported in the whole world including Americas and Africa. Some sources claim that half of the world's glass buttons production was realized in Jablonec nad Nisou.

More than 250 years of buttons pressing

Glass cufflinks making ofThe first written notice about the glass buttons production is dated 1764 in a small village of Radlo near Jablonec nad Nisou. Distinctive small houses, called Driketten from German Drueckenhutten, started to be built next to every family house in the Jizerske mountains. Most of the pressing houses were located in the villages of Janov nad Nisou, Smrzovka, Josefuv Dul, Lucany. One hundred years later the glass buttons pressing became the key living income for hundreds of families.

The handmade glass buttons pressing was booming around 1860, when the black costume jewellery came into fashion. Black glass buttons became bestsellers globally.

Around 1900 had first factories arisen specialized for the industrial production of the Bohemian glass buttons. As we are situated in the region of Sudets (German Sudetenland), where the German speaking population prevailed, the biggest buttons factories carried the names like Gebrüder Mahla and Gebrüder Feix. The glass buttons production for export amounted to 100 million buttons per year. The buttons production peak was between the world wars.

Decay of the glass buttons pressing in the 20th century

Grinding of the glass cufflinksThe rise of the plastic buttons production, both world wars and the great recession contributed to the decay of the glass buttons industry in the first half of the 20th century. After the second world war the Sudets Germans were forced out of the Czechoslovakia and their experience of the handicraft was gone. In 1948 all the small and medium glass buttons pressing business were nationalized under a single social state owned company Zeleznobrodske sklo. The socialist way of production and marketing led to worsening of the glass buttons quality, capability to innovate and even to incapability to deliver ordered buttons on time. Around 1970 is the global demand for the glass buttons further decreasing due to the massive expansion of the washing machines in the households. The industrial production of the glass buttons were slowly dampened. The plastic buttons rule the world.

Today the original Bohemian buttons pressing is carried on by single entrepreneurs. The glass buttons demand is minimal. The collecting business of the vintage buttons prevails. The hand pressed and painted glass button never became wide-spread clothing accessory since then.

How is the Bohemian glass button produced?

Painting of the YABLOGLASS cufflink.The key material for the glass buttons pressing are glass bars of hundreds of colours. The same bars are also used for the glass beads production today. The 900 Celsius / 1,700 Fahrenheit degrees heat melts the glass bars to a shapable material. The buttons pressing is made in hand with metal tongs, which include the top and bottom mold. The mold is machined to the very detail. The buttons are then separated and grinded. The glass buttons are usually decorated with paintings.

The new era of the traditional Bohemian glass button

The newest application for the traditional Bohemian glass buttons presented a small enterprise Denimar Tailoring s.r.o. from Jablonec nad Nisou in 2017. The company makes cotton dress shirts and blouses under a brand SmartMen. The founders, who's ancestors were involved in the buttons industry in the past, let made a small collection of men's cufflinks decorated with the original Bohemian glass buttons. With the aim to revive the glass buttons making in Jablonec nad Nisou a new brand YABLOGLASS was created. The YABLOGLASS cufflinks made of the glass buttons make its way to the global markets now. The production of the YABLOGLASS glass buttons combines the traditional way of the glass and metal costume jewellery production. The nearly forgotten art of glass buttons pressing gets the second chance to continue its live, which lasts for more than 250 years.YABLOGLASS logo

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