How Lasvit’s new herbarium line of crystal flower packaging is made – Rob reports
The glassmaking traditions of northern Bohemia go back centuries, but Lasvet has figured out how to reinvent the craft in radically new ways. For the manufacturer’s Herbarium line — which covers branches, shrubs and flowers in crystal — designers didn’t have to look far for inspiration. The meadows and forests near their headquarters in Novi Bor, near the Czech Republic’s northern border with Germany, provided everything they needed.
“During the workshop, our director asked us to create more floral motifs,” explains designer Štěpán Gudev, who is credited with conceptualizing the Herbarium concept alongside colleagues Mária Čulenová and Petra Dicková. “I was part of the team that decided, instead of imitating nature, we would print it on glass. It’s something that’s been done before, but of course we wanted to take it to the next level. The prototype took just one day to create,” he says. “The brainstorming happened,” he says. In the afternoon. The next morning, we gathered resources and went to the hot shop.
The process turns out to be very simple. The molten glass is poured over indigenous plants that Lasvit produces locally — a mix of thistles, conifers, rosehips and junipers — or the customer’s own specimens. Once the plants catch fire, they turn to ash and leave behind fossil-like impressions. The individual components are then tied together and suspended in the air, evoking raindrops and falling leaves. “It’s poetic,” says Goodeve. “One plant dies, but somehow, it is immortalized.”
Founded in 2007 by Czech entrepreneur Leon Jakimich, Lasvit introduced Herbarium in 2020. Buoyed by its success, the line joins Lasvit’s Icons collection, which reimagines the brand’s most iconic custom lighting designs into custom-made fixtures. Starting at $10,660, Herbarium formulations are customizable or available in nine standardized versions, ranging from 27 to 265 individual components in various shapes and sizes.
1. The physical world
The process begins with weighing and mixing the raw elements to create the recipe for your glass workshop. “Every manufacturer has their own formula,” says Godeve. Lasvit uses silica sand, calcium oxide, sodium carbonate, and magnesium along with other additives. Once the ingredients are prepared, they are ground into a fine powder.
2. Heat wave
The collected raw materials pass from the mixing zone to the furnace, where they are melted. Intrapeak temperatures are about 2,912 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike Murano glass, Bohemian crystal is highly prized for its brilliance and optical qualities, a result of the unique ratio of ingredients in the recipe.
3. The power of nature
When it’s time to pour the foliage, the flower arrangements are placed on a metal plate. Small branches, dried flowers, and plants that are not too thick or damp work best, because excess moisture can create steam and cause the glass to break. But herbs can come from anywhere, if custom ordered, even from a home garden or a wedding bouquet.
4. Fire away
A blower collects the molten glass into balls at the end of a long tube and carefully pours a stream of it onto the plate above the plant, using its contours as a guide. “It’s like honey coming off a spoon,” Godeve explains. “It’s hard to control.” A second blower stops the flow and cuts off the excess with metal shears. With each pour, the flowers turn to ash and disappear, leaving behind an impression on the surface, effectively freezing them in time.
5. Cooling off period
The glass is transferred to a continuous kiln, which uses a conveyor belt to carry the pieces through a heating chamber, where they are gradually cooled over the course of 6 to 10 hours, depending on their size. “If the glass is not cooled properly, it will be very brittle and may crack,” says Godeve. “You want to level out the temperatures slowly.”
Once the glass has cooled, clean it with a brush and water to remove any ash residue, then dry it with a soft cloth. Next, a 2 mm hole is drilled for the suspension. If desired, gold or other metallic embellishments are hand-painted, filling in the etched lines with plants. The coated glass must then be fired in a kiln for approximately 16 hours at a temperature of 1022°F.
7. Best in glass
Finished pieces are packed and shipped to their new home. Lasvit has teams around the world to help with the installation of the crystal components and the LED light sources that shine on them, along with routine maintenance and cleaning.