The International Centre of Glass Art (CIAV) re-lit a first glass furnace in 1992 on the industrial wasteland of the former Meisenthal Glassworks (1704 – 1969). Since then the centre’s ambition has been to re-interpret the technical heritage of glassmaking in the area. Different collaborative projects enable well known and aspiring contemporary creators (artists, designers, Art College students and so on), to work alongside the glassmakers, share their know-how and give life to new objects. The CIAV has always embraced the link between design and contemporary art, thus showcasing the virtuosity of the glassmakers as well as the complexity of traditional glassmaking techniques, a fine way of ensuring the continuity of a specific skill whilst anchoring it firmly in its era.
When the Meisenthal Glassworks closed its doors in 1969, a chain of communication was broken and all of a sudden vital knowledge was no longer handed down from person to person. Right from the beginning the CIAV decided to try to repair this chain and preserve the skills of the local area by investing time and energy in the transmission of these skills. Former glassmakers, veterans of the golden age of local glass and crystal making most of whom are retired, were encouraged or re-encouraged to pass on “the knack” to our new generation of glassmakers. These campaigns of transmission from person to person have allowed the preservation of techniques specific to certain local lines of production or typologies of objects and enabled the constitution of a body of techniques, most of which will be re-used later on in the creation of contemporary objects. It’s worth remembering, at this point, that it’s only by regularly employing a range of techniques that one can preserve true craftsmanship.
But where would the pianist be without a piano? Strictly speaking, know-how is essential but we must never forget the tools. As well as the so called simple hand tools used by glassblowers (blowpipes, shears, mallets, tweezers etc.), there is one tool above all others that allows glassmakers to cope with mass production: the mould.