Imagine my excitement when I saw that the Czech Republic was on the list of top visitors to Inspirational Beading this month. It’s home to some of the world’s oldest and best glass bead makers, and Bohemian Paradise, not to mention gorgeous historical buildings, museums and more.
As one of the world’s youngest countries, the Czech Republic has officially been independent since 1993, and is currently one of the top three most peaceful countries in Europe. It is a popular tourist destination, with the capital city of Prague receiving over 4 million visitors every year.
Jablonec and other cities in the North Bohemian area have been producing glass beads since the 13th century. When costume jewelry and decorative beadwork gained popularity in the 1500’s, many of the bead styles and techniques the we love today were being developed to meet the demands of a new fashion era. Production continued to grow until the Great Depression, followed by the second world war and the loss of many bead makers, who relocated to Germany. In 1958, bead manufacturing in former Czechoslovakia changed from a cottage industry to factory based, and mass production of glass beads continues to dominate today in an effort to compete with manufacturers in Japan, India, and China.
Although Czech seed beads - which have been traded around the world for centuries - have lost some of their popularity compared to their Japanese counterparts, contemporary pressed and fire polished Czech glass beads are among the best and most desirable in the world. The quality, color, and attractive styles are unmatched, but still affordable for the average crafter.
Happy beading, Czech Republic!
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